SWAINTON – Primate Point, the new primate habitat at the Cape May County Park and Zoo, opened Nov. 29.
The main building is 8,000-square-foot with five rooms. It gives the primates access to larger and more spacious habitats with built-in flexibility that permits them access to three different exterior habitats and five separate interior dens.
The exhibit is located just inside the main entrance and has "Completely enhanced the appearance of the zoo and guests who haven’t visited in a while will recognize the dramatic transformation,” stated Freeholder E. Marie Hayes, liaison to the Park and Zoo in a release.
The three exterior habitats surround the building and are 20 feet high and range in size from 800 to 1,200-square feet.
Visitors can view the primates through two 12 feet by 7 feet viewing windows.
“Primate Point will allow our guests to view the primates inside their house during inclement weather and see them in one of three different outside habitats. Because of its design, the primates may be in a different outside habitat every time you visit,” Hayes stated.
Project Cost, Change Orders
The project cost nearly $1.39 million.
The first contract awarded by freeholders was on April 12, 2016 for $78,500 for the exhibit’s design by CLR Design.
Initial bids for construction were rejected by the board Oct. 11, because they exceeded the allotted budget.
The main contract of $1.2 million was awarded to Aliano Brothers, General Contractors of Vineland Nov. 22, 2016.
A change order for $73,452 was approved to Aliano Brothers June 27, 2017 for work to correct drainage problems caused by previous projects adjacent to the exhibit.
A subsequent change order, also to Aliano Brothers for $27,724, was approved Aug. 8 for fencing, a water heater, asphalt replacement, galvanized rods and steel supports for the roof.
On Nov. 14, 2017 a $5,509 change order was approved for the removal and reinstallation of a eucalyptus fence.
Construction on the habitat began in December 2016.
Over the course of the year, there had been some disruption to the zoo entrance, and to the habitats in the front of the zoo.
“Guests who visited us during the construction period may have noticed the Petting Zoo had been blocked off for most of this time. As the construction progressed, and the front of the zoo opened again, then it was apparent the disruptions were worth it,” stated Zoo Director Hubert Paluch.
The exhibit houses families of Black Howler and DeBrazza monkeys currently residing at the zoo.
Black Howler Monkeys are a primarily arboreal species of New World monkey that originates from the rainforests of Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, and Bolivia.
They have a prehensile tail that acts like a fifth arm and is used when moving through the rainforest canopy.
Howler Monkeys get their name from the deep howl that they can produce. That vocalization can be heard up to three miles away.
“Ghelfling,” a 23-year-old female Black Howler monkey, is the mother to “Bert,” a 9-year-old male, and “AJ,” an 8-year-old female. Both were born at the zoo.
DeBrazza monkeys are a medium-sized species of Old World monkey that originates from the forests and swamplands of Central Africa.
Territorial in nature, they live in small familial and social groupings in the wild.
“Tot” and “Fry” are DeBrazza monkey siblings, 8 and 6 years old respectively, also born at the zoo.
“For the first time our guests will be able to see the Howler monkeys and DeBrazza monkeys year-round because of the windows that view the inside of our Primate Point habitat," stated Associate Veterinarian Alexander Ernst.
“Because of its size and flexibility, Primate Point could be home to new species in the future, so stay tuned for some exciting announcements,” Ernst added.
–Al Campbell contributed to this article.