A Different Perspective: Tree Top Trails at the Philadelphia Zoo

A red-capped mangebey exploring Philadelphia Zoo’s Tree Top Trails. Copyright Philadelphia Zoo.

It’s been a while since I’ve highlighted an exhibit on Explore, but the Philadelphia’s Zoo’s new Treetop Trail caught my imagination.   The Treetop Trail is a system of elevated passageways and lookouts situated among the treetops for primates to travel and explore.  The animal residents now have the opportunity to travel away from their homes, providing both visitors and animals with interesting new encounters – and new perspectives to explore.

“We think the opportunity to travel longer distances and move high in the trees will be incredibly rewarding for arboreal animals like monkeys and lemurs,” says Dr. Andy Baker, chief operating officer.  “The environment changes day-to-day for each primate group, as the different species time-share different parts of the system. The animals using the system will be exposed to a wide variety of new and changing visual stimuli, including local wildlife like bugs and birds, other Zoo animals, and the activities of our staff and guests.”

Red-capped mangeby looks down from his vantage point in Tree Top Trails. Copyright Philadelpha Zoo.

Treetop Trails is made of flexible stainless steel mesh and is approximately 700 feet.   The mesh system encircles Impala Plaza, extending through the existing ring of trees.  Monkeys and lemurs exit their indoor exhibits at the back of the Rare Animal Conservation Center and travel and cross over the visitor path on each side of the plaza.

Animal enrichment is an important part of life in zoos and aquariums and includes all processes that enhance an animal’s environment within the context of their behavioral biology and natural history.   The enhancements increase the range of choices available to an animal and encourage species-appropriate behavior, with the end result being enhanced animal welfare. 

Enrichment may include changing something in the habitat, offering food in new ways, appealing to other senses (touch, sound), introducing new animals to a group, or other novelties. In Treetops Trails, it’s nice to see a simple yet innovative new design that provides animals with a very new experience.  

Tim Lewthwaite

This entry was posted in Enrichment, Exhibits, Philadelphia Zoo, Zoo. Bookmark the permalink.

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