Indy Just Got Wilder! Chimpanzee Complex Opens Memorial Day Weekend

by Emily Garrett

May 21, 2024

A one-of-a-kind experience to watch chimpanzees be…chimpanzees

Chimpanzees have arrived at the Indianapolis Zoo. The Penny & Jock Fortune International Chimpanzee Complex presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers is one of the largest chimpanzee habitats in the country and home to a community of 21 chimpanzees. With three living spaces connected by an overhead trail, chimpanzees have the freedom to decide where to go, what to do and who to do it with. Starting Saturday, May 25, visitors can watch chimpanzees be…chimpanzees.

The innovative exhibit is the largest to open at the Zoo since the opening of the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center in 2014. Stretching across a majority of the Zoo’s footprint and encompassing nearly 9,600 square feet, the exhibit will allow guests to experience unforgettable ape encounters throughout their visit to the Zoo.

“The best thing for a chimpanzee is living with other chimpanzees. We have built a one-of-a-kind habitat that is completely focused on fostering natural chimpanzee social behavior, allowing them the freedom to make choices throughout their day. Our goal is for visitors to gain a greater appreciation for chimpanzees and how to protect their future,” said Dr. Rob Shumaker, Indianapolis Zoo President & CEO.

The Penny and Jock Fortune International Chimpanzee Complex includes three main areas, which are all connected by an elevated trail – a chimpanzee highway.

Community Hub

The Community Hub is the outdoor area located near the Zoo’s front gate. It features a large vertical climbing tower, landscaping and two sheltered areas.

Harlan/Shriver Families Cognition Center

The Harlan/Shriver Families Cognition Center is an indoor space featuring touch screen computer stations that the chimpanzees can choose to use to solve problems, mimicking natural problem-solving foraging behavior.

Chen Family Cognition Station

The Chen Family Cognition Station is the outdoor space connected to the Harlan/Shriver Families Cognition Center. The yard is connected via trail to both the Community Hub and the Deborah J. Simon Culture Center, making this the centrally-located meeting point.

Chimpanzees interacting

Deborah J. Simon Culture Center

The Deborah J. Simon Culture Center is the largest of the indoor spaces, providing multiple opportunities to see chimpanzees gather in small groups – with an interpretive look at the distinct chimpanzee cultures and diverse ways different communities use tools.

Chimpanzees walking along overhead trail

Chimpanzee Trail

The Chimpanzee Trail is the elevated system connecting all areas of the complex for chimpanzees. The pathway measures approximately 0.25 miles in length. The vast majority of the trail is viewable by visitors, with some sections stretching directly overhead public walkways.

Designed by a team at Browning Day, the Fortune International Chimpanzee Complex has been intentionally and thoughtfully designed to encourage natural chimpanzee behavior and mimic a wild environment. While the exhibit might not look like a forest, it has been designed to function like one. Each space has been designed to support chimpanzees’ dynamic social interactions and engage their remarkable intelligence and physical strength.

By visiting the Indianapolis Zoo and Fortune International Chimpanzee Complex, visitors are joining the global effort to save wild chimpanzees. The Zoo supports field conservation projects in the Congo and Ivory Coast. Buy tickets at IndyZoo.com.

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Emily Garrett