Kiko on the O Line.

Bonnie, Batang and Kyle on the O Line.

      The Smithsonian’s
National Zoo
 
The Orangutan Transport System, or O Line, consists of eight 50-foot-high towers connected by plastic-coated, steel cables. At the lowest point, the cables are about 40 feet off the ground. The entire distance of the O Line is about 490 feet. Tower 1 is in the outdoor orangutan yard at the Great Ape House. Tower 8 is in the outdoor orangutan yard at Think Tank. Whenever the orangutans have outdoor access, they have access to the O-Line.  Whether or not the orangutans choose to travel on the O-Line, or simply relax in one of their yards is always their choice.  Not only is travelling a choice, but they also then get to decide where they want to spend the night each night, either in the Think Tank building or at the Great Ape House, allowing them the flexibility in their daily lives.

The Think Tank Memory Study.

The Think Tank Exhibit at the National Zoo is all about animal thinking and has three main building themes, society, language and tool use.  In this building we also have daily research demonstrations featuring some of the current cognition studies being conducted with the zoo’s orangutans and gorillas.  Current research programs include metacognition, tool use and planning, memory and theory of mind studies.

The interactive mister!

At the Think Tank exhibit at the National Zoo, the orangutans have a mister system as part of their outdoor enclosure.  In the corner of their enclosure they have two buttons.  One button they press and they can spray themselves with a mist of water.  When they press the other button, they spray the visitors outside of their enclosure with water when they stand in the “wet zone”.  Anyone that works with orangutans can probably guess which button the orangutans prefer pushing!

Orangutan tug-a-war.

At the Think Tank exhibit at the National Zoo, the orangutans have a tug o’ war pulley system as part of their indoor enclosure.  Orangutans can choose to interact with the public and play a game of tug o’ war. We have been holding this event at the National Zoo for several years now.  Staff and volunteers make hundreds of handmade tissue paper flowers that contain a conservation message tag stating how human mothers can help orangutan mothers in the wild by reducing or eliminating palm oil in their grocery items