Houston Zoo Welcomes First Northern White-Cheeked Gibbon
HOUSTON (June 13, 2023) – It’s a Houston Zoo first! A male northern white-cheeked gibbon was born on May 30 to first-time parents Ting and Max. This is the first time this species has been born at the Houston Zoo. Guests can see the new family in Wortham World of Primates, next to the De Brazza’s monkeys. While mother and baby bonding is going well at the moment, the first few weeks are crucial, and the animal care team is keeping a close watch on the pair. The keepers who have dedicated their lives to caring for the gibbons will have the honor of naming the newborn.
Northern white-cheeked gibbons are native to southeast Asia, Vietnam, and southern China and are critically endangered in the wild. Their numbers have declined by 80% over the past 45 years, primarily due to habitat loss and poaching.
White-cheeked gibbons have a lot of unique features including being dimorphic in fur color. This means all white-cheeked gibbons are born a cream color and then change to black when they are about two years old. At that point, they develop their iconic white cheek patches. Males will stay black while females revert back to the cream color.
Another way to tell gibbons apart from other primates is through their exceptionally long arms. White-cheeked gibbons have the longest arm length relative to body size of any primate. In fact, their arms are longer than their legs which helps them swing from tree to tree.
Guests can help save wild primates around the world by visiting the Zoo. A portion of each Zoo membership and admission ticket supports the Zoo’s wildlife conservation work in Asia, Africa, and South America. The Houston Zoo helps equip anti-poaching patrols, protects and restores habitat through reforestation initiatives led by locals and provides expert veterinary care to heal and rehabilitate sick and injured primates.
Photo credit, Jackelin Reyna/Houston Zoo
Video credit, Kevin Kendrick/Houston Zoo