Doors ‘Swing; Open on Blackpool Zoo’s New Orangutan Pad

25 July 2014
Blackpool Zoo’s family of orangutans are back after a complete £1million transformation of their home.
Orangutan Outlook was officially opened by the Mayor of Blackpool, Councillor Valerie Haynes along with Marketing Lancashire’s Chief Executive, Ruth Connor, on Thursday 24th July.
Vicky and her daughters, Cherie and Summer, along with resident male Ramon, have spent 18 months at Chester Zoo whilst the restoration and expansion work was completed.
The transformation
The ape house, which was originally built in the 1970’s, has been tripled in size to make it wider and higher with an upstairs viewing area and extended keeper facilities.
A new, wider external walkway has been developed which leads upstairs to an open plan viewing area, the ceiling is much higher and the new house features more efficient heating and improved lighting.
The kitchen area, which is now located on the first floor, is also much bigger than previously and includes state of the art appliances.
Orangutans on holiday
Blackpool Zoo’s family of orangutans were cared for by expert keepers at Chester Zoo while work on their new home took place.
Keepers at Blackpool visited the orangutans twice a month to maintain their relationship with the apes. Whenever they arrived Vicky, Cherie, Summer and Ramon recognised them instantly and came over to greet them.
Vicky, the oldest female orangutan, underwent a groundbreaking operation to clear blocked sinuses earlier this year. The procedure, which was the first of its kind in the UK, took place on Chester’s on-site animal health centre.
It was carried out by the zoo’s vets with the support of staff from Blackpool Zoo and a human sinus expert from Nuffield Health the Grosvenor hospital in Chester. The operation was a complete success and Vicky has made a full recovery.
Meet the family
Blackpool Zoo is home to four orangutans. Vicky, Cherie, Summer and Ramon are all firm favourites with visitors from across the globe.
Vicky
Date of birth: June 17th 1984
Birthplace: Blackpool
Physical characteristics: Largest female
Personality: Intelligent, but very bossy
Favourite food: Yogurt
Hobbies: People watching
Other information: Vicky is a great mother and has done a fantastic job at rearing her two daughters.
Ramon
Date of birth: November 20th 1998
Birthplace: Leningrad Zoo in Russia
Arrived in Blackpool:  August 30th 2003
Physical characteristics: He is developing his male facial flanges and has a goaty beard.
Personality: Wise and mature
Hobbies: Ramon likes to climb as high as possible and then sit and watch the world go by.
Favourite food: Any type of vegetable
Other information: Ramon’s mother died whilst giving birth to him and her was hand-reared by keepers in Russia.
Cherie (daughter of Vicky)
Date of birth: April 9th 1997
Birthplace: Blackpool
Physical characteristics: Cherie has the longest hair and a very pretty face
Personality: Grumpy and apprehensive
Hobbies: Dressing up in clothes that keepers give her for enrichment and building big nests with straw to sleep in
Favourite food: Tree leaves, especially willow
Other information: Cherie was born in the outside paddock at Blackpool Zoo at 1.45pm. As the zoo was open to visitors at this time her birth was witnessed by crowds of people. She was named after Cherie Blair, whose husband was elected to power shortly after her birth.
Summer (daughter of Vicky)
Date of birth: May 23rd 2002
Birthplace: Blackpool
Physical characteristics: Smallest female
Personality: Playful and inquisitive
Favourite food: Grapes
Hobbies: Loves playing with sacks and clothing
Other information: Summer loves the summer season and is in her element playing with the sprinklers.
Looking to the future for the orangutans
Staff and keepers at Blackpool Zoo are delighted to have their family of orangutans back home.
Peter Dillingham, Animal Manager at Blackpool Zoo, said: “The opening of our new Orangutan Outlook has been hugely anticipated by visitors and staff and the end result is amazing.
“The facilities are state-of-the-art and huge investment has gone into ensuring everything is perfect for the orangutans and the keepers.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the fantastic team of keepers at Chester Zoo for taking excellent care of our orangutans.
“Vicky has fully recovered from her operation and it was a complete success; we are all delighted with the outcome.
“Our keepers have also worked extremely hard in planning this entire project and they are thrilled to have the orangutans home.
“They made the regular trip to Chester and kept everyone here up to date with progress, which was great as everyone really missed the orangutans.
 “We are looking forward to another fantastic summer here at Blackpool Zoo and I am sure Vicky, Ramon, Cherie and Summer will be very happy in their new home.”
Investment in Blackpool and Lancashire
Marketing Lancashire’s Chief Executive, Ruth Connor said: “In recent years Blackpool Zoo has invested £6million into new attractions which is wonderful news, particularly when creating a great environment for the animals at the zoo. Growth in businesses and attractions is always good news for Lancashire.”
The Mayor of Blackpool, Councillor Valerie Haynes said: “Orangutan Outlook is just marvelous. A massive well done to all at Blackpool Zoo.”
Bornean Orangutans – the facts
Becoming critically endangered in the wild due to deforestation and hunting has brought these stunning red apes to the attention of the world.
Scientific tests have shown that orangutans share around 97% of the same DNA as humans. This is also shown by the fact that orangutans use tools for such tasks as poking into holes to remove insects. Male orangutans have large cheek pads, which increase in size as they grow older. These show their dominance over other males as well as their readiness to mate.
Blackpool Zoo – the facts
Blackpool Zoo announced record figures for the fifth consecutive year in 2013 as it continues with investment in facilities and attractions, introduces new species and enjoys success in international breeding programmes for endangered animals.
In 2013 visitor numbers were up 10 per cent, school visits seven per cent, internet bookings saw an 55 per cent increase and membership sales rose by 10 per cent, which all led to a 12 per cent rise in revenue.
To date, 2014 has been very busy with five per cent more visitors than the same period last year. March, April and May have been the busiest in the zoo’s 42-year history.
Since 2008 Blackpool Zoo has invested around £6m in new attractions and facilities including Giraffe Heights, Active Oceans, Wallaby Walkabout, a new home for the Aardvarks and Anteaters, Waders and Waddlers Aviary, a huge Children’s Farm Barn, an extension and refurbishment of the main restaurant and the latest addition – Orangutan Outlook.
Blackpool Zoo is owned by Parques Reunidos, the second largest European leisure parks operator and a leading world-wide player. The zoo is home to over 1,500 mammals, birds, reptiles and invertebrates set amidst thirty-two acres of mature woodland and lakes. 
The zoo’s signature animals include elephants, giraffes, big cats, gorillas, orangutans, sea lions, primates, zebras and kangaroos. It is open every day of the year, apart from Christmas Day, from 10am.
For further information please contact:
Paula Holden, Racheal Ireland or Abi Blundell at ICG on 01772 679383 or email paula@icgonline.co.uk, rachael@icgonline.co.uk or abi@icgonline.co.uk 
Out of office hours contact: Paula Holden on 07772268378
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