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Lar Gibbon Fact File

Hylobates lar

Weight

4.5-7.5kg

(10-17lbs)

Length

42-59cm

(16.5-23in)

Lifespan

Wild 25 years

Captive 50 years

Diet

Herbivore

Fruit, Leaves, Flowers

Conservation Status

IUCN

Endangered

Lar gibbons are also known as white-handed gibbons or common gibbons. Their fur coloration is highly variable ranging from cream to red, brown or black though all individuals have white hands, feet and a ring around the face.

These primates are perfectly adapted to a life moving through the trees with long, flexible arms helping them swing from tree to tree. As a species of lesser ape they do not have a tail.

Their highly seasonal diet primarily includes plants with fruit being a major component. Occasionally it expands to include animal matter and insects.

Pairs form for life and work together to raise their young. These young remain with their parents while they raise their next infant learning skills for when they breed.


Unfortunately populations are declining as their habitat is destroyed and the adults are hunted for food and to capture their young for the pet trade.

Learn more about these precious primates by reading on below.

Appearance

Lar gibbons have highly variable coloration between individuals. While almost all individuals have a ring of white fur around the face the rest of the body can vary through a range of colors such as cream, red, brown or black. The hands and feet are also colored white. The underlying skin is black.

Inside the white ring of fur the face is hairless. The eyes are dark in color.

They are adapted to swinging through the trees with the arms being 40% longer than the legs. Their fingers and hands are also elongated to help help them move through the trees with ease. Each foot features a bare, leathery-skinned sole.

On the rear the lar gibbon is equipped with ischial callosities which are pads of hard-skin to make sitting more comfortable. This adaptation helps to stop them falling while sleeping in the tree.

As an ape they do not have a tail.

Their body measures between 42 and 59cm(16.5 and 23in). They have a weight of between 4.5 and 7.5kg(10 and 17lbs).

No major elements of sexual dimorphism are recognized though males may be slightly larger than females.

Diet


Lar gibbons are primarily frugivores. Most of their diet is made up of fruit with the rest consisting of leaves, plants and flowers. Small amounts of insects are occasionally consumed.

These picky eaters are able to determine how ripe a fruit is and only eat the best ones.

To obtain water they will lick it from their fur after a storm or dip their arm in a tree hole to obtain the water within.

The diet of these primates is highly seasonable.

Lar Gibbon

Range

Asia is the native home of the lar gibbon. Here they are found in Indonesia; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia; Myanmar and Thailand.

They were previously found in parts of China but are now believed to be extinct here.

Habitat

Lar gibbons make their homes in evergreen, semi-evergreen and mixed evergreen forests. They have shown a tolerance to live in areas of secondary forest which is regenerating and selectively logged areas of forest.

Groups will maintain a home range which overlaps with that of other groups.

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Reproduction

Lar gibbons do not have a defined breeding season though activity peaks in March.

Gibbons form a strong pair-bond with this pair maintaining a home range and living in a group with their immature young. Partners reinforce their bond each day through periods of mutual grooming.

Occasionally pairs may separate during their lives and find new partners.

A single infant is born after a gestation period of 210 days. At birth the infants are mostly hairless with a small cap of fur on top of the head. They will cling to their mother's chest where they are kept warm between the thighs and abdomen.

Soon after birth they develop the ability to vocalize. They first brachiate at 9 months old. Weaning occurs at 2 years old.

Females provide the majority of the care for the infant though the male may occasionally provide assistance.

At between six and eight years old the infant is driven out of its birth group.

Females achieve sexual maturity at 9 years old. Males mature between 8 and 12 years old.

Young are produced once every two to three years.

Behavior

White handed gibbons are best adapted for life in the trees. Their long arms are useful to help them move through the trees.

Inside the wrist they have a ball and socket joint rather than the saddle joint of humans which helps them to move through the trees. It is rare for individuals to ever move to the ground.

These gibbons are primarily active by day. At night they will find a spot in the trees where they sit on the ischial callosities and bury the heads in the knees or chest.

They live together in groups of two to six. The main members of this group are a monogamous pair which breed together for life. These groups are known as a troop.

Males work hard to defend the territory inhabited by the family. This is primarily achieved by calling and displaying which primarily occurs in the morning.

Pairs will also call in a duet to one another to reinforce their pair bond. Another call is generated to warn the group of approaching predators.

Occasionally lar gibbons are seen walking with on their two feet with the arms raised to keep them balanced.

Lar Gibbon

Predators and Threats

Natural predators of the lar gibbon include leopards, tigers, pythons and eagles.

They experience some food competition with the larger siamang which can reduce their success.

Over the last 45 years the lar gibbon is believed to have declined in population by 50%.

In parts of their range they are hunted to supply the pet trade. Poachers will hunt the mother and then take the infant. They may also be captured for use as food.

Other threats including habitat clearing to create land for agriculture such as palm oil plantations. Increasing development of roads through their habitat both opens up new areas to hunting and habitat loss.

Quick facts

The lar gibbon is also known as the white-handed gibbon or common gibbon.

Their genus name Hylobates comes from a Greek language and means “forest walker.”

While well adapted to move through the trees the lar gibbon does occasionally fall. As a result some scientists believe most individuals suffer at least one fracture in their life.

Lar Gibbon

Photo Credits

Top, Middle One and Two

Under License

Bottom

MatthiasKabel, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons

References

Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

Woodward, J. and Bryan, K., 2016. DK knowledge encyclopedia Animal!. London: Dorling Kindersley

Henry Vilas Zoo. 2021. White-Handed Gibbon | Our Animals | Henry Vilas Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://www.henryvilaszoo.gov/animal/white-handed-gibbon/> [Accessed 3 June 2021].

Oaklandzoo.org. 2021. White-Handed (Lar) Gibbon. [online] Available at: <https://www.oaklandzoo.org/animals/white-handed-gibbon> [Accessed 3 June 2021].

2021. Lar Gibbon. [ebook] Idaho Falls Zoo, pp.1-2. Available at: <https://www.idahofallsidaho.gov/DocumentCenter/View/5034/White-Handed-Lar-Gibbon> [Accessed 3 June 2021].

Honolulu Zoo Society. 2021. White-Handed Gibbon – Honolulu Zoo Society. [online] Available at: <https://www.honoluluzoo.org/animals/white-handed-gibbon/#1569268020099-6c8edbe8-65b5> [Accessed 3 June 2021].

Mogo Wildlife Park – NOW OPEN 9AM-4PM DAILY. 2021. White Handed Gibbon — Mogo Wildlife Park – NOW OPEN 9AM-4PM DAILY. [online] Available at: <https://mogozoo.com.au/white-handed-gibbon> [Accessed 3 June 2021].

Downey, K., 2017. White-handed gibbon. [online] New England Primate Conservancy. Available at: <https://www.neprimateconservancy.org/white-handed-gibbon.html> [Accessed 3 June 2021].

Brockelman, W & Geissmann, T. 2020. Hylobates lar. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T10548A17967253. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-2.RLTS.T10548A17967253.en. Downloaded on 03 June 2021.

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