The Gibbon Species Survival Plan® manages the genetic and demographic health and oversees the care of gibbons in AZA zoos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gibbons and Siamangs
Gibbons
It is generally accepted that there are 16 to 17 gibbon species in the Family Hylobatidae. They are divided into four groups (genera): Hylobates, Hoolock, Symphalangus, and Nomascus. Click here for a list of all the individual gibbon species.
   

Natural History
Gibbons are a group of small (lesser) apes found in subtropical and tropical rainforests throughout Southeast Asia. Like all species of apes, gibbons do not have tails.

Gibbons are well adapted for life in the treetops. They move through the forest by swinging from branch to branch in a type of locomotion known as brachiation. They have shortened thumbs and long fingers which allow them to hook their hands over branches while swinging through the forest canopy. They also have exceptionally long arms and shortened legs to facilitate this method of movement. When not brachiating, gibbons may walk bipedally (on two legs) and raise their arms above their heads for balance. Gibbons feed mainly on fruit but also eat a variety of leaves, flowers and some insects.

Gibbons reach maturity at approximately 6-8 years of age. They produce offspring about once every two to three years after a gestation period of 7 to 8 months. Females generally give birth to a single offspring. Infants have the ability to cling to their mothers immediately after birth, which allows females complete range of motion while moving through the forest. Males of most gibbon species will participate in caring for the offspring once they are weaned.

 

Social Behavior
Gibbons live in family groups that usually consist of a mated pair and their juvenile offspring. Group size usually ranges from 2-6 individuals with young gibbons leaving their family groups between 5-8 years of age. Common social behaviors include playing, grooming and singing.

Gibbons produce amazing songs that can be heard up to 2 miles away. These songs are the most complex of all land mammals and are thought to be used to establish territory boundaries as well as for attracting a mate. Mated pairs also sing together in beautiful duets that can advertise and even strengthen their bond. Gibbon pairs can be identified by their particular song.

 
Threats and Conservation
Nearly all gibbon species are classified as endangered by The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Some species have been reduced to a few hundred individuals. The major threats to gibbons include habitat loss and destruction due to logging, clearing of land for agriculture, palm oil plantations and other forms of human development. Hunting for food and for the pet trade is also having a negative impact on wild gibbon populations.
 

Gibbon Species
Western hoolock gibbon (Hoolock hoolock), Eastern hoolock gibbon (Hoolock leuconedys), Bornean agile gibbon (Hylobates albobarbis), Mountain agile gibbon (Hylobates agilis agilis), Lowland agile gibbon (Hylobates agilis unko), Kloss's or Mentawai gibbon (Hylobates klossii), White-handed gibbon (Hylobates lar; four subspecies: H. l. carpenter, H. l. entelloides, H. l. lar, H. l. vestitus, H. l. yunnanensis), Javan silvery gibbon (Hylobates moloch; two subspecies:
H. m. moloch, H. m. pongoalsoni), Grey gibbon (Hylobates muelleri; three subspecies:
H. m. abbotti, H. m. funereus, H. m. muelleri
), Pileated or capped gibbon (Hylobates pileatus), Black crested gibbon (Nomascus concolor; four subspecies: N. c. concolor, N. c. furvogaster, N. c. jingdongensis, N. c. lu), Northern white-cheeked crested gibbon (Nomascus leucogenys), Yellow-cheeked crested gibbon (Nomascus gabriellae), Hainan black crested gibbon (Nomascus hainanus), Cao-Vit black crested gibbon (Nomascus nasutus),
Southern white-cheeked crested gibbon (Nomascus siki) and Siamang (Symphalangus syndactylus; 2 subspecies: S. s. continentis, S. s. syndactylus).


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