Gorillas at Milwaukee County Zoo have a new outdoor habitat: "It's harder to get them inside now!"

MILWAUKEE -- The gorillas at the Milwaukee County Zoo have a new outdoor habitat to explore, thanks in part to a generous donation from the Northwestern Mutual Foundation.

Outdoor habitat at Milwaukee County Zoo

"You cannot begin to understand what this means to our animals and to us," Trish Kahn with the Milwaukee County Zoo said.

Northwestern Mutual donated $100,000 to the Zoological Society of Milwaukee for the renovated yard. The donation was combined with money raised by the society’s 2013-14 Annual Appeal to pay for the project.

The new features include the following:

    Keepers have slowly been introducing the gorillas, including baby gorilla Sulaiman, to the new exhibit in the last few weeks.

    "I don't know who was more excited the first day we let them out, if it was the keepers or the gorillas!" Kahn said.

    Outdoor habitat at Milwaukee County Zoo

    The zoo's seven gorillas now have a perfect space to spend the summer and "monkey" around!

    "Do they want to be sitting on a rock? Do they want to be closer to the public? Do they want to be further away? This kind of choice and control allows the animals just a greater level of welfare and care here at the Milwaukee County Zoo," Beth Rich, Milwaukee County Zoo Director of Animal Management and Health said.

    This exhibit is also putting the Milwaukee County Zoo in the forefront when it comes to how animals are exhibited.

    "Typically you have a situation where people are around the animals viewing the animals, but here the animals get to run around us," Rich said.

    New gorilla exhibit at Milwaukee County Zoo

    "It gives the public an opportunity to see them do more naturalistic behaviors. They're just more content, more happy. It's harder to get them inside now," Kahn said.

    "We're all about, as a foundation, supporting children and families and what better than the zoo!" Northwestern Mutual Foundation President John Kordsmeier said.

    Kordsmeier says giving back like this pays off for Northwestern Mutual as a company.

    "Keeping the quality of life high in Milwaukee is extremely important for our employees, for attracting new employees but also because it's the right thing to do for our community," Kordsmeier said.

    “We’re grateful for Northwestern Mutual’s generous support to the renovated yard. We’re confident that guests will enjoy the renovations just as much as the gorillas," Dr. Robert (Bert) Davis, president and CEO of the Zoological Society said.

    New gorilla exhibit at Milwaukee County Zoo

    Hawks Landscape Inc. built the furniture and obstacles in the exhibit.