Judy, a 16-year-old Bornean orangutan, is seen navigating the new Orangutan Passage, a 48-foot-long, 14-foot high passageway that leads from indoor areas to a large outdoor habitat. (Photo by Nancy Chan/SF Zoo)

After a 15-year absence, Bornean orangutans are now visible for guests at the San Francisco Zoo & Gardens again, with “sneak peeks” of them in the new Orangutan Passage, part of the Great Ape Passage.

The expanded habitat for chimpanzees and orangutans is the first large-scale great ape expansion in almost four decades, revitalizing and updating an historic area of the zoo. It also reintroduces a favorite species back to the Bay Area.

“Great Ape Passage represents our commitment to the continued wellness of our senior chimpanzees and the future of great apes at S.F. Zoo,” said Tanya Peterson, CEO and executive director of the San Francisco Zoological Society. “The plight of wild orangutans is an important story for us to tell, and our new pair will be tremendous in connecting our guests to better understand and help support this species’ efforts to survive.”

A 9-year-old male orangutan and a 16-year-old female recently transferred from other zoos, as a breeding recommendation through the Association of Zoo and Aquarium’s Species Survival Plan for orangutans, which works to ensure the viability and genetic diversity of animal populations living under human care. The pair are getting to know one another slowly, and will eventually reside together. In the meantime, guests may only view them individually or together for limited or select times.

A portion of the zoo’s historic Pachyderm Building was repurposed and renovated for the apes, and now features spacious suites that serve as animal night quarters, new animal management areas for animal care staff and a large indoor dayroom. The dayroom, featuring large climbing structures and two public viewing windows, links to an outdoor passageway where guests can view the animals overhead.