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Mercury: Male, born April 13, 1990 at Dickerson Park Zoo. He arrived at the Zoo on April 28, 1999. Mercury has black hair.
Phoenice: Female, born January 1, 1989 at the Alexandria Zoo in Louisiana. She arrived at the Zoo on March 16, 2010. Phoenice has blond hair.
Leo: Male, born on April 7, 2011 to first-time parents Mercury and Phoenice.
Look for the gibbons sharing space with our Sumatran orangutans.
Particularly if you're at the Zoo early, and during the summer when the gibbons are outside most of the time, you may be lucky enough to hear the gibbons duetting, a loud and beautiful series of calls in which the male and female each have their own unique part. In the wild, this call probably serves to advertise that the territory is occupied by a bonded pair of gibbons.
PECO Primate Reserve. The gibbons live with our Sumatran orangutans.
White-handed gibbons are found in tropical forests over a broad area in southeast Asia, including sections of southern China, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra. They occur in two basic color forms. Some are all black, with white hands (thus the common name) and feet, and a ring of white fur around the bare black face. Others are a lighter color, varying from blond to brownish or reddish. On these lighter individuals, the light fur on the hands and feet and around the face does not contrast as strongly with the rest of the fur, so is not as obvious.
White-handed gibbons can live into their early 40's in zoos, but a more typical lifespan is about 20. Typical lifespan in the wild is not known.
Gibbons live in small family groups, usually containing one breeding pair, plus one to a few offspring. Each family groups lives in a defined area, which can be as large as 120 acres. They defend at least part of this area from neighboring gibbon groups, displaying at or chasing their rivals, but physical fights are rare.
Gibbon pairs engage in loud and beautiful "songs", with the male and female each having a distinct part in the "duet". These and other loud calls probably serve to advertise that the area is already occupied by a bonded pair.
Like other gibbons, white-handed gibbons move through the trees by brachiation - swinging hand over hand with the body suspended below. When on the ground, they walk and run upright on their hind legs, with arms held high for balance. They live almost entirely in the upper canopy of the forest and are among the most acrobatic of all animals.
Mothers give birth to a single offspring after a pregnancy of about 7 months.
White-handed gibbons, like other gibbons, are typically monogamous, with one breeding pair per group. However, recent research on wild white-handed gibbons suggests that there are some variations from monogamy. Some groups appear to contain two adult males. In other cases, adults have been seen to mate with neighbors as well as with pair-mates. Additional research is needed to understand the range of social structure in wild gibbons.
Typical combined head and body length for the white-handed gibbon is 17-24 in (43-61 cm) in length. Males and females are about the same size. Gibbons have arms that are proportionately longer (as compared to body size) than those of any other primate.
White-handed gibbons typically weigh between 7-15 lbs (3.2-6.8 kg), although well-fed zoo individuals may be somewhat heavier, up to 17 lbs (7.7 kg) or more. Males and females are the same size.
In the wild, ripe fruit makes up most of the diet. They also eat leaves and insects. In the Zoo, they eat scientifically-formulated primate chow and a wide variety of fresh produce.
The white-handed gibbon can be found in parts of southeast Asia, including regions, of southern China, Thailand, Burma (Myanmar), Laos, the Malay Peninsula, and the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
On the 2011 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the white-handed gibbon is listed as Endangered.
To learn more about the conservation efforts at the Philadelphia Zoo, click here.
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