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Baby Gibbon Was Born to Be Buff – For Awhile
Drop in to Tropic World/Asia, and you will have no trouble distinguishing female white-cheeked gibbon Indah from her mate Benny. Like all males of his species, Benny is entirely black except for – you guessed it – his white cheeks. Female gibbons, on the other hand, are a creamy buff color. As a result, Benny and Indah make quite the striking couple.
You may have a harder time spotting the new addition to the family. Since his birth early in the morning on November 13, Indah and Benny’s son has been keeping a low profile. The yet-to-be-named infant is keeping a close grip on his mom as she goes about her daily routine. Whether Indah goes off to her favorite napping spot or swings gracefully from one tree branch to another in search of the perfect perch, the baby goes with her, holding close for comfort.
The newborn’s proximity to Indah would make it difficult to see him even if he were mostly black like his father. But baby gibbons of both genders are born sporting a form of camouflage: a buff-colored coat matching that of their mothers. Both males and females retain the light coloring for most of their first year of life, and then turn black. Males stay black while females change again, returning to their original buff color by the time they hit adulthood at age 6 or 7.
It is pretty hard to get a good view of the new baby right now. Your best chance to catch sight of the adorable ape is to stop by for a visit in the morning. Like most new mothers, Indah is easily tired, so she and her son are only out on exhibit for a few hours early in the day. Around lunchtime, they head off for some rest in an off-exhibit area.
Supporting Indah in caring for her son is a high priority for keepers. Gibbon mothers can, at times, be easily distracted from their maternal care. Keepers are limiting her exposure to distractions by providing her with lots of rest and private time with the newborn. As a result, Indah is better able to focus on being a nurturing mother. This promotes the well-being of the newborn gibbon, who—since the species is currently endangered in the wild—is an important addition to the worldwide white-cheeked gibbon population.
Stop by Tropic World/Asia to witness Indah’s mothering in action, and catch a glimpse of the little ape. Just make sure you come in the morning – and with your eyes prepared to do some careful watching. The baby has several more months of buff-ness ahead of him.
© Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc.
published by Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc.