Updated: Tuesday, 04 Sep 2012, 1:04 PM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 04 Sep 2012, 8:56 AM EDT
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Governor Mitch Daniels along with Mayor Greg Ballard helped kick off the groundbreaking of the new International Orangutan Center at the Indianapolis Zoo Tuesday.
Over 200 guests joined Indianapolis Zoo officials for the groundbreaking ceremony. The Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust announced a $1.5 million grant to the project.
The International Orangutan Center will cost $21.5 million. It is part of the Zoo's $30 million Campaign for Conservation and Community.
Officials say the center will give orangutans a new home and offering zoo-goers a unique look at the life of orangutans.
"The International Orangutan Center will be the most important zoo exhibit in the world and a
global center of excellence, setting a new standard for zoos in how they design animal habitats,"
said Indianapolis Zoo President and CEO Michael Crowther. "It is our hope that this new center will
be the catalyst for the change that can save these amazing animals from extinction in our lifetime."
The center will include a 150-foot "Beacon of Hope" that will extend upward from the center of the exhibit.. The Beacon will be illuminated by lights the orangutans turn on themselves, symbolizing hope for endangered species.
The new center is expected to attract researchers and visitors from all over the world.
Officials say it will be one of the "most ambitious and important zoo exhibits in the world."
The center is expected to open in May of 2014.
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