Christmas has come early at Adelaide Zoo with the arrival of a special gift…a critically endangered White-cheeked Gibbon baby! Born in the early hours of December 10, the infant is the fourth offspring of parents Viet and Remus.
The birth is a significant achievement for Adelaide Zoo, as the youngster is one of only four White-cheeked Gibbon infants to be born at the zoo in its 130-year history.
The infant is extremely important to the international breeding program working to save the White-cheeked Gibbon from extinction. With a declining trend in the wild population of at least 80 per cent over the past 45 years, the species is classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN. It is in serious decline in its native Laos, Vietnam and Southern China, due to deforestation and poaching for the wildlife trade.
Adelaide Zoo Senior Primate Keeper, Jodie Ellen, said Viet and Remus were doting parents, while older sisters Nhu and Tien were fascinated by the new addition. “The baby is absolutely adorable and is looking strong and healthy, clinging tightly to mum, which is important considering they live high up in the tree tops of their island home,” Jodie said.
“Viet and Rhemus are incredibly loving and capable parents and it’s heart-warming to the entire family caring for the little one. Older sisters Nhu and Tien are excited by the new addition to the family and will play a very hands-on role in the upbringing of the new baby,” Jodie added.
The new family spent the first few days relaxing between their night quarters and their leafy island habitat.
White-cheeked Gibbons are born a golden color before gradually turning black. Females turn gold again when they reach maturity at around five years of age while males remain black. The baby’s gender is not yet known and it may be many months before it can be determined.