Ouwehands Dierenpark, a zoo in Rhenen near Wageningen, has successfully managed to lure reporters to its new orangutan enclosure with a story about behavioural conditioning.
The reporters’ banana took the shape of gymnast Epke Zonderland (silver medalist at the 2009 World Championships), who performed a couple of exercises on the parallel bars. The zoo had told the press it hoped Zonderland’s example would spur the orangutans on to use the climbing ropes in their new compound.
Reporters of amongst other BBC (video), Reuters and RTL Nieuws showed up last Friday to record footage of a lacklustre ape taking its first tentative steps on a tightrope. Seven trees in the enclosure contain a food lift that will carry fruit and other snacks upstairs as an incentive for the orangutans to walk their tightropes. In doing so the apes will alleviate both themselves and their human visitors of boredom, the zoo hopes.