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Labor of Love for Perth Zoo Keepers

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A rare Javan Gibbon has survived the first few months of life, all thanks to the round-the-clock care and attention provided by the staff at Perth Zoo, Western Australia.

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The little male Javan Gibbon, named ‘Owa’ (Indonesian for ‘gibbon’), was born on June 20th, and has had to be reared by Perth Zoo keepers. Six days after his birth, it became evident that his mother, ‘Hecla’, wasn’t producing enough milk to sustain her infant.

Primate Supervisor, Holly Thompson, said, “It is difficult to rear a primate and introduce it back to its family, so it’s not something we took on lightly. However, Perth Zoo has an exceptionally good track record in this area.  We’ve successfully hand-reared four White-Cheeked Gibbons, but Owa is our first Javan Gibbon!”

According to Holly, life in her department has become a blur of nappies, milk formula and sleepless nights. Their department now features a portacot, and has been essentially turned into a temporary nursery. However, Thompson emphasizes, “It’s certainly a labor of love!”

Currently weighing in at a healthy 860g (1.9 lbs), Owa receives six bottle feeds a day and has just started enjoying mashed fruit and vegetables.

The infant Javan Gibbon visits his mother and father, ‘Jury’, and four-year-old sister, ‘Sunda’, at least twice a day. The group is very interested and protective of him, and it’s anticipated that he will return to his family once he is old enough to be weaned off his milk feeds.

Owa is Hecla’s tenth offspring. Hecla and her mate, Jury, are the world’s most successful breeding pair of Javan Gibbons. Perth Zoo is responsible for the coordination of the Studbook for this unique species, which involves updating the international studbook for Javan Gibbons and advising on suitable breeding and genetics for this species throughout Australasia.

See more great pics and learn more, below the fold!

Javan Gibbons, also known at Silvery Gibbons, are Java’s last remaining ape. They are classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List, due to habitat destruction and the pet trade. Surveying techniques of wild Javan Gibbons is difficult, but it is suspected there are less than 2,000 remaining in the wild. Over 98% of their original habitat has been destroyed for the growing population of Java, which was recorded at 141 million people in 2012.

Perth Zoo supports the work of Silvery Gibbon Project through its Wildlife Conservation Action fundraising program.  The Silvery Gibbon Project assists with releasing gibbons into West Java’s Mt.Malabar and educates the local community about the importance of habitat preservation and gibbon conservation. 

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