A look inside the Cincinnati Zoo's Gorilla World expansion

Gorilla World indoor expansion opens to the public Dec. 5. (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - A new exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo gets you up close and personal with one of the most popular animals, the gorilla.

The primates now have a new $13 million indoor home. Zoo Director Thane Maynard says the glass separating visitors from them is three and a half inches thick. It allows you to feel very close to the amazing creatures.

Maynard says it’s the most complex area they’ve ever built. The indoor area is 29 feet tall and doubles the space the gorillas have to roam. The design is based on their natural habitat with hidden areas for food.

"The reason is, in nature gorillas live in a big salad bowl and eat green plants all the time. So rather than feed them once a day like a dog or a cat, all day long they’ll be moving around exhibit getting little treats," said Maynard.

The Zoo’s 11 gorillas are separated into two groups. They’ll rotate into the new indoor space and original outside area as well.

As soon as he got into his new home, Jomo, the 420-pound male silverback, had no problem letting the crowd know he was there. He was banging against it to let the crowd know he's there.

"He’s never been this close to a crowd of people. So Jomo is establishing his territory," said Maynard.

Susie Preston brought her kids to see the gorillas. She loved being able to get close the amazing animals.

"They are right up in their face and big and massive they are because they are creatures that God created," said Susie.

The less visible, but equally important, component of this is an area the public won’t see.

Behind the indoor space is a modernized living area for the gorillas and a new behind-the-scenes configuration that provides them with spatial variety and easy options to move past one another.

50 gorillas have been born at the Cincinnati Zoo since 1970 and with the added space behind the scenes, zookeepers hope some stuff goes in the back and there will be a new baby in 2018.

The zoo stays open throughout the winter if you'd like to make a visit.

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