Imagine coming face to face with a western lowland gorilla, separated by only a two-story glass window; watching an orangutan move between trees overhead; or marveling as spider monkeys hang from their tails above a walkway. That’s exactly what zoogoers will be able to experience with Tropical Forests, an expansion of our Tropic World habitat, which includes the addition of four new outdoor areas.

The new space, which encompasses approximately 2 acres, will feature new indoor and outdoor habitats for two gorilla troops—a family unit and a bachelor group consisting of adult and adolescent males—and outdoor areas for orangutans and several species of South American monkeys. The primates’ habitats will have running water features, climbing structures, grasses, and vines. And, nearly 75 new trees, 500 shrubs, and several pollinator gardens will be planted. 

In addition to the expanded habitats, the project also includes a Gorilla Conservation Center with state-of-the-art learning space for the public and a dedicated home for the Chicago Zoological Society’s King Conservation Leadership Academy, in which high-school age students participate in science programming with an emphasis on career and college readiness.

During construction, guests will still be able to see the animals in Tropic World. Once complete, there will be opportunities in the future to make changes inside the current building that will feature new guest experiences. It is anticipated the entire complex will be completed in 2025. Zoogoers will be able to see the animals in their new habitats beginning in 2025, and potentially extending into 2026 as animals acclimate and are introduced into their new spaces.