Baby gibbon goes on display at Brookfield Zoo

January 10, 2012 2:21:02 PM PST
There's a lot of oohing and aahhing going on at Brookfield Zoo. A critically endangered white cheeked gibbon gave birth to a healthy baby boy last month.

The new, nameless baby gibbon at Brookfield Zoo's Tropic World was born on November 15 but is just now going on permanent display with mom, "Indah."

"Benny" is the father and, along with another son named "Thani," this family of four is swinging into the new year in a graceful celebration of young life.

So far the little boy is the perfect offspring.

"He's doing wonderfully," said Nava Greenblatt, Tropic World Asia's lead keeper. "He's thriving. He's nursing well. He's clinging well to his mom and he's part of a new family now."

This is an important birth because in the wilds of Asia the gibbon is disappearing. In just the last 45 years 80 percent of the population has disappeared.

So it is in zoos where the species is being saved. Parents like Indah and Benny are obviously doing their part. They are in their mid-20s, but for gibbons, that's not too old to raise a family.

"With many primates, but especially apes, their life stages are lengthened," said curator of carnivores and primates Jay Petersen. "The infancy is prolonged. They provide a lot of care to a fairly helpless infant. There's a long juvenile stage ... and they live a very long time as well...Just like people."

For now and the next few months the baby boy will remain the color of his mother and will continue to sport this blond ducktail haircut until he turns black like dad.

For the next several months the baby boy will hang around mom, and ultimately, he will be able to fly through the air with the greatest of ease like his brother and dad on a flying trapeze.

And, boy, can these gibbons fly!

"White cheek Gibbons fly very quickly through the canopy of trees, and can travel as fast as 35 mph, and can swing from arm to arm as much as 30 feet," said Petersen.

For right now it's the comfort of mommy's arms, but for the future, the sky's the limit.