A baby White-handed Gibbon born at the Indianapolis Zoo on October 23 is the first offspring for its parents and the first Gibbon ever born at the zoo!
Zoo keepers do not yet know the gender of the little Gibbon, because for the first several weeks the baby clings tightly to mom’s belly. These gripping skills are important, because mom uses both arms to swing through the trees in a fluid motion called brachiation. That means it’s up to the baby to hang on by gripping mom’s fur. Mom helps a bit by holding her legs up to create a supportive “seat” for the baby.
Though this is the first baby for female Koko and her mate Elliot, both are doing a great job caring for their infant. White-handed Gibbons’ fur colors include tan, brown, and black. The baby takes after Koko and has black fur.
Native to Southeast Asia, Gibbons are known for their elaborate vocalizations, which mated pairs engage in daily as a way to reinforce their bond. These Apes also sing to announce their territories to other Gibbons. As it grows, the baby Gibbon will join its parents’ song.
White-handed Gibbons are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to illegal hunting and habitat loss from forest clearing for agriculture and the construction of non-sustainable palm oil plantations.