If you’ve been to Regenstein Center for African Apes lately you may have noticed Hank’s group of chimpanzees has been off exhibit and a wall of their enclosure is blocked off. These temporary changes offer an opportunity to highlight the lengths we go to ensure the safety of our animals and visitors.
The glass walls at Regenstein Center for African Apes—like the walls of our polar bear, African lion and Amur tiger exhibits, among others—are made of specialty glass set in iron frames. Built to be impact resistant, each pane of this safety glass consists of multiple layers. This way, even if one layer cracks, the window itself remains intact, protecting guests and wildlife alike.
This week one of the layers of the glass wall in the chimpanzee exhibit developed visible cracks. The affected layer remained totally intact, held together by its laminated coating; the other layers were unaffected. Upon noticing the cracks, zookeepers quickly moved the chimpanzees to their off-exhibit living space.
With the apes taken care of, we turned our attention to the window. Because each pane of this multi-layered glass has to be custom created, we estimate it will take several weeks to repair the exhibit.
Hank and the rest of his troop will be shifted in Regenstein Center for African Apes as we repair their exhibit.
During this time Hank’s chimpanzees will be moved to the exhibit closest to the building’s exit. Gorillas from Azizi’s group may then be given access to the outdoor yard affiliated with the closed exhibit.
While it’s unfortunate we’re temporarily down an exhibit at Regenstein Center for African Apes, the safety of the zoo’s animals, staff and visitors is always our top priority. This emphasis on safety extends beyond walls and barriers. It’s seen in routine emergency drills, partnerships with local police and fire departments, even the care with which our zookeepers inspect animal exhibits every day.
So bear with us as we work to repair the window. I often say that life in a living institution always offers new surprises. This is a first for us—but soon enough, it will be a zoo memory.