The Assiniboine Park Zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of a White-handed Gibbon on February 4.
This is the first offspring for mom, Maya, and dad, Samson, who were matched on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan Program and selected to be the first residents of the Zoo’s new Gibbon habitat, which opened in June 2017.
“Maya and Samson appeared to be a really good match right from the start, and we have been looking forward to this possibility for some time, so this is very exciting news for our staff, volunteers and visitors,” said Grant Furniss, Sr. Director, Zoological Operations.
For the past week, the Gibbon family has been enjoying privacy in an off-exhibit holding area where the animal care team can discreetly monitor them to ensure that both mom and baby are doing well. Maya is proving to be an attentive mother and the baby is doing well, so the Gibbons have now been given access to their indoor habitat, which is currently closed to visitors.
The baby’s sex is not yet known, as staff are currently taking a “hands off” approach and will only intervene and examine the baby if necessary.
White-handed Gibbons (Hylobates lar) are small tailless apes with soft, thick fur that can vary from black to a pale fawn colour. They live in trees and are among the fastest of all primates, using their very long arms to swing effortlessly among the branches.
They are currently classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN, due to habitat loss and hunting. They are found mainly in tropical rainforests in Southeast Asia, where palm oil production is on the rise. Palm oil is found in many food products, cosmetics, soaps, candles, and even fuel. Visitors to the Zoo can learn what they can do to bring change to the palm oil industry by supporting companies that use traceable, sustainable palm oil.
The Assiniboine Park Zoo has a very successful history with breeding Gibbons. Maya was born at the Assiniboine Park Zoo in January 2011. Her parents, Mel and Manju, both lived in Winnipeg before being transferred to Safari Niagara in 2011 when the former monkey house was decommissioned. Samson’s father, Chan, was also born at Assiniboine Park Zoo in 1992 and lived here for two years, before moving to Edmonton.