The Animal Facts Editorial Team
June 1, 2023 6:59 pm
Oakland Zoo, TCalifornia, The United States
Oakland Zoo are celebrating the birth of a white-handed gibbon infant in to their family. Parents Mei (female, age 12) and Rainier (male, age 11) welcomed their infant on Sunday May 28th.
“This is our first gibbon birth at the Oakland Zoo, and our Animal Care staff has done tremendous work researching and preparing for every possibility. We are delighted that our gibbon family is doing so well”, said Colleen Kinzley, VP of Animal Care and Conservation.
Care staff at the zoo were able to observe the birth through a live feed from a camera set up within the night house. Labour began at 3pm and continued for six hours before the safe delivery of the infant. She has since shown excellent maternal instincts and has been viewed cradling and nursing her newborn. Reiner is not actively involved in the care of the infant but has been staying close to Mei.
Mei and Rainer were brought together by the expert matchmakers at the Gibbon Species Survival Plan (SSP). The SSP is operated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to ensure the sustainability of a healthy, genetically diverse, and demographically varied population of gibbons throughout AZA-accredited zoos in the U.S.
The pair have enjoyed a four year long courtship since arriving in Oakland in 2019. Gibbon pairs mate for life and will regularly duet together to strengthen their bond.
Animal care staff have been working to ensure the gibbon family could welcome their first infant since they arrived in Oakland. They have given them ample time to adapt to their new home, form a strong bond, and develop the social dynamics necessary to create the best environment for a successful pregnancy.
In recent months ahead of the birth they have worked to baby-proof the island and added ports in case bottle feeding was required.
Gibbons are among the few genuinely monogamous species. They form a nuclear family made up of a pair and their young. The latest arrival will remain with its parents for at least five to six years. The SSP will then determine where the infant may be best suited to move to.
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.
Image: © Oakland Zoo/Steve Goodall
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