Apenheul Primate Park is a zoo in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands. It specializes in apes and monkeys. It opened in 1971 and was the first zoo in the world where apes and monkeys could walk around freely in the forest and between the visitors. It started with just a few species, now it displays more than 30 different primates, among them Bonobo, Gorilla and Orang Utan.
Apenheul Primate Park was conceptualised by photographer Wim Mager in the 60s, when it was legal for private citizens to own monkeys. Mager, who himself had several apes as pets, believed both humans and apes would benefit from housing the animals in a more natural forest-like environment.He created the apen-heul (from apen meaning monkeys, and heul, an old Dutch word for a safe haven).
Apenheul Primate Park opened in 1971 as a small but revolutionary park housing wool-monkeys and other species. It was located in the nature park of Berg en Bos (Mountain and Wood) and proved popular with visitors and primatologists alike, leading to subsequent expansions. In 1976 Gorillas were introduced to Apenheul Primate Park, with the first gorilla baby being born three years later. This was only the second healthy baby that had born in captivity in the Netherlands and the third in the entire world. The baby was raised by its own mother, which remains a rare event.
A major setback occurred in 1981 when the cabin in which Apenheul Primate Park began burned to the ground, killing several monkeys. The building was subsequently replaced.