Orangutan House Project Now Goes To The City Council

For many years there has been talk in Dresden about it, now the nails should be done with heads. The zoo wants to build a new house for the orangutans. Construction should start in July. The zoo’s supervisory board, which also includes representatives from all city council groups, has approved the project. Now the councilors are getting it on the table.

Because the city council has to decide whether there is the green light for a deficiency guarantee from the city of up to twelve million euros in order to secure the financing of the new building. The submission goes to the old town district council and the finance committee beforehand. The city council is expected to rule on May 12th.

What does the project cost and where does the money come from?

The planned construction costs for the new orangutan house amount to 17 million euros. It will be the largest construction project to date in the Dresden Zoo. The zoo is raising three million euros from its own funds, while the zoo friends of Dresden have collected 500,000 euros. The zoo wants to take out twelve million euros as a loan and raise another 1.5 million euros in donations.

As of January 19, the donation pot would have already been filled with 246,000 euros, according to the template for the city council. The zoo expects a construction time of around 26 months and hopes to be able to open the new building in September 2023.

Basically, the planned financing is based on the assumption that the city “continues to flow € 2,024,000 as annual allocations to cover losses and € 1,000,000 as annual allocations for poor investment needs”, according to the city council proposal. From 2027 “the expected allocations for investment deficits” – by which the investment subsidy is meant – would then partly be used to repay the loan and thus no longer be available in full for other investments in the Dresden Zoo.

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In addition, “adjustments to admission prices in 2021 and after completion of the orangutan facility in 2023 are taken into account”, according to the template. So will there be a further increase in admission prices in 2023? “Not necessarily,” said zoo director Karl-Heinz Ukena to DNN. He expects a further increase in the number of visitors, so that the zoo also generates more income and the admission prices after the The increase does not have to increase again this year. That has also worked in the past few years. There was no increase from 2013 to 2021.

Why should a new orangutan house be built?

The construction of a new orangutan house cannot be postponed any longer, because the current accommodation does not meet the current requirements for a species-appropriate keeping of great apes.

At the beginning of 2017, the animal welfare organization Great Ape Project gave the Dresden Zoo a negative price for “the worst attitude in a European zoo” due to the spatial conditions and filed a complaint in July 2019. If the zoo does not create better living conditions for the orangs now, it will no longer be able to keep these animals. However, the older animals would stay because “relocation to other zoos for reasons of animal welfare would not be possible”. “For this, the old orangutan house would have to remain standing until the end of its life,” says the city council proposal.

For the animal rights organization Peta Germany, however, building the new orangutan house is not the solution. On March 30th, she appealed to the city council to “prevent the rebuilding of the animal prison and instead end the painful orangutan keeping”. Instead, the “orangutans kept in Dresden should be transferred to a better position as soon as possible – at best a recognized sanctuary in which the animals no longer have to be used for breeding purposes.”

The shape of the new orangutan house is reminiscent of a donut. In and around the house different biotopes of the tropics are to be represented.
Source: Design by Heinle, Wischer und Partner / Photo: Toni Kretschmer

What should the new building offer?

The plan of the planned orangutan house is reminiscent of a donut. The building is placed on the circular path designed by Peter Joseph Lenné, which then leads through the circular building as a discovery path – right through the large outdoor area inside.

There should be three outdoor and four indoor enclosures for the orangutans and smaller enclosures behind the scenes for training or quarantine. The individual enclosures will have a variety of connections that can be opened or closed as required. Because the rooms should be able to be adapted to the natural social structure of these great apes.

Great attention is paid to offering the great apes climbing opportunities. “With a total height of ten meters, the orangutans will in future be able to look into the zoo and the Great Garden at vantage points,” says the concept.

Which animals should still be in the new house?

On the one hand, the arrangement of the orangutans allows the keeping of a three-headed breeding group with offspring as well as the keeping of another adult breeding male. Adult offspring could also be housed in another enclosure until they are released.

On the other hand, a species of ape from the group of langurs, new for Dresden Zoo, is to be socialized with orangutans. In addition, smooth otters are to be added as a new species. And the new building will also house giant Aldabra tortoises, binturongs (marten bears) and various types of reptiles in terrariums.

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By Catrin Steinbach

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