Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

March 29, 2013

Zoo unveils orangutan fundraising campaign


INDIANAPOLIS — Several hundred fans wearing their favorite sports team apparel recently attended a pep rally at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in support of the new team in town - the Indianapolis Zoo orangutans - that kicked off the public fundraising phase of a $30 million Campaign for Conservation and Community: Save the Orangutans.

Joining Indianapolis Zoo President and CEO Mike Crowther on the stage for remarks were Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard; Jim Morris, president of Pacers Sports and Entertainment; and Steve Walker, chairman and CEO of Walker Information. Walker is also the chair of the campaign, which gives the public glimpses of the great apes' human-like characteristics and personalities.

Other local sports dignitaries in attendance included executives from the Indianapolis Colts, Indianapolis Indians, Indiana Sports Corp., and the new North American Soccer League team coming in 2014.

At the center of the zoo's campaign is a new website, AzyAndFriends.com. Named for Azy, the dominate male within the zoo's group of orangutans, the site will be an ongoing source of information about the orangutans and the construction of the more than $20 million International Orangutan Center. The site is also a vehicle from which the public can contribute to the final phase of the overall fundraising campaign.

A highlight of the new website is a match game application. Through the game, participants answer a short series of questions about their personality. At the end of the survey, the individual's orangutan match is revealed, along with specific details of the animal's personality.

Guests at the rally received a special rally towel when they arrived and a deck of New Team in Town trading cards as they departed. During the event, attendees were able to take the match game quiz on their mobile devices and from mobile kiosks set up inside the fieldhouse entry pavilion while surrounded by renderings of the International Orangutan Center as well as large banners of the animals that will call the exhibit home.

The rally also featured mascots from several local sports teams, including Boomer of the Pacers, Blue of the Colts, and Rowdy of the Indianapolis Indians.

Construction on the International Orangutan Center began in November 2012 and the zoo's team of orangutans will take residence in the exhibit at the end of this year. The exhibit will open to the public Memorial Day Weekend 2014.