Gibbon: New Home for Gaby

[dcwsb inline="true"]

A red-cheeked gibbon mother with youngster

A red-cheeked gibbon mother with youngster

Gibbons are monogamous and, unlike most primates, they maintain a matriarchal society. The natural living arrangements for gibbons are a monogamous pair and their young offspring. When the offspring are mature, they will take cues from their parents and leave in search of starting their own family. The stronger the family bond is between the parents and their young, the more confident they are. They will be more vocal, more defensive of their territory, and more protective of their young. This is reflective of a strong, thriving family of gibbons.

Gaby was housed with the family of red-cheeked/Gabrielle’s crested gibbons in the San Diego Zoo’s Sun Bear Forest: CJ, the dominant female, Max, and their baby, Bohdi. Since Gaby is Max’s sister, she had “visitor” status in the gibbon family’s home. The older Bodhi got, the more confident her parents became. Over time, Max and CJ no longer allowed Gaby in their home. This may seem cruel to us humans, but it is actually a sign of a very healthy family group.

The gibbon family moved to Illinois, a family of silver-leaf langurs moved in (see Beth’s blog, Silver-leaf Langurs), and Gaby moved to a temporary area off exhibit. We renovated an existing exhibit in Bear Canyon to suit Gaby, removing everything so we could start from scratch. We based our design on information given by keepers who have taken care of Gaby over the years. We used materials she prefers and the size of the furniture that she uses the most, and we attached all the furniture so that Gaby can exercise by brachiating from branch to branch without having to stop.

On April 17, we finished Gaby’s new home. She moved in first thing the next day. As soon as Gaby went outside we knew all of our hard work had paid off: she was swinging around, vocalizing and introducing herself to all the visitors. Gaby likes hanging around people, especially babies and children. She will interact with them all day by looking at them, talking to them, and showing off for them. Gaby appears to be very happy in her new home between the sloth bears and the grizzly bears. We know Gaby would love it if you came by and said hi.

Beth McDonald is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo.