On World Wildlife Day The Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy Is Reaching Out For Orangutans To Raise $2.1 Million By April 30th

March 3, 2021

TORONTO, ON, Wednesday, March 3, 2021: The Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy’s Reaching New Heights for Orangutans Campaign will enable your Toronto Zoo to complete the construction of a new, $10 million outdoor habitat for the six orangutans in their care. The campaign has already received tremendous support, with $7.9 million now in place for the project. The Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy is now seeking to complete the project by raising the final $2.1 million by April 30, 2021.

“For orangutans in the wild, extinction is a real and constant threat. Every day acres and acres of rainforest – the orangutan’s natural habitat – is lost to make way for palm oil plantations”, said Beth Gilhespy, Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy Executive Director.

“There is a clear correlation between Zoo visits and awareness of the issues facing orangutans in the wild”, said Toronto Zoo CEO Dolf DeJong, referencing a recent study by the Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy on conservation awareness. “The new orangutan habitat is an important tool for increasing awareness for these critically endangered animals. The new outdoor habitat will allow Toronto Zoo guests to engage with these intelligent great apes, and at the same time learn about steps they can take each and every day to help orangutans in the wild by making sustainable palm oil choices”.

The City of Toronto has committed $4.7 million to the orangutan habitat, and dedicated supporters including Compass Group Canada, the Lawrence Schafer Foundation, Juan and Stefania Speck and many others have made impactful donations that will help bring this project to life. “The Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy continues to look for visionary individuals, foundations and corporations who care deeply about the welfare of the animals with whom we share our planet,” added Gilhespy.

"There has never been a more important time to take action in the fight against animal extinction. As the world’s largest food service company, we have the opportunity to change the world and positively impact both people and planet through our sustainability efforts,” said Saajid Khan, CEO Compass Group Canada. “I am pleased to express my support for the Reaching New Heights for Orangutans Campaign.”

Renderings of new outdoor orangutan habitat, Photo Credit: Toronto Zoo

The new outdoor habitat has been designed to stimulate the physical, social and intellectual needs of the Zoo’s troop. They will be able to climb high and feel the breeze on their faces as they look out over the treetops of the Rouge Valley. Integrated into the new orangutan habitat will be a research station where animal behavioural scientists can study these majestic tree dwellers.

“Excellence in orangutan and animal welfare is the underlying foundation for everything we do at the Toronto Zoo,” said Maria Franke, Manager of Welfare Science, Toronto Zoo. “In designing the outdoor orangutan habitat, we brought together internal and external experts to ensure we captured all of the elements that would allow our orangutans every opportunity to thrive. One of the key components was to provide the animals with choice and control over their environment. This new habitat is flexible, stimulating, enriching, and provides challenges that build physical and cognitive skills for their overall wellbeing."

Architectural layout of new outdoor orangutan habitat: Photo Credit, Toronto Zoo

The Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy will be reaching out to the public over the coming weeks to highlight the Reaching New Heights for Orangutans Campaign and its funding needs.  For those interested in supporting this important project, please visit www.wildlifeconservancy.ca/habitat, call us directly at 416-392-9114 or mail your donation to:

Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy – Orangutan Habitat
361A Old Finch Avenue
Toronto, ON CA
M1B 5K7


To download the Reaching New Heights for Orangutans Case for Support, visit www.wildlifeconservancy.ca/habitat

To learn about the Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy and its work, visit www.wildlifeconservancy.ca

To sign up to receive media communications from the Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy please email wildlifeconservancy@torontozoo.ca

Media Contact Information:

Beth Gilhespy
Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy Executive Director
(416) 392-5913

Katie Gray
Toronto Zoo’s Manager of Strategic Communications
(416) 938-5283

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For general information visit torontozoo.com

The Toronto Zoo’s mission is to connect people, animals and conservation science to fight extinction and our vision is a world where wildlife and wild spaces thrive.

An iconic tourist attraction and Conservation organization, the Toronto Zoo boasts a number of leading programs for helping wildlife and their natural habitats – from species reintroduction to reproductive research. A world-class educational centre for people of all ages, the Toronto Zoo is open every day except December 25 and attracts approximately 1.2 million guests each year.

Toronto Zoo is accredited by Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The Zoo has also achieved the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) Certificate of Good Animal Practice® and is inspected by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).

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