Two northern buff-cheeked gibbons who got paired up more than a year ago have just introduced a tiny little surprise to their gibbon neighbors: a baby gibbon.
After days of ambushing to take photographs of the baby gibbon, which is always seen clinging to her mother’s belly and hiding its head in her thick bright orange color, we were finally able to capture some mother and child moments of the happy family in cage 15A in the EPRC. The baby gibbon was born on November 5th to mother Gaby and father Sonny who are northern yellow-cheeked gibbons (Nomascus annamensis), a species that was just discovered as a new species in 2010 by Christian Roos at German Primate Center. Due to the fact that at this point the newborn never lets go of its mother, we have not been able to sex the baby yet.
» Northern-yellow cheeked gibbon can found in Southern Laos, Central Vietnam and Northeast Cambodia.
Initially in the first few days after birth, the baby gibbon appeared to be hairless and hence looked not too different from an alien’s descendant. After a few days, the fur started to grow thicker, longer and more yellow. At around one year of age, it will complete the color transformation from yellow to black. From then, gibbon stays black for life if one is a male, otherwise will revert back to yellow once she reaches maturity which can be as late as 8 years of age.
From our observation, the mother keeps alert at all time whenever the staff approach her cage, and quickly shield the baby gibbon away from curious eyes and then nonchalantly swing away to a safe hide. She has all the rights to be extra cautious and protective of her baby after 7 months of pregnancy, doesn’t she?
» One of the rare moments when the mother revealed her baby.
» When the baby spends almost all the time burying its head deep into the mother’s fur, being able to see the baby awake is a real treat.
The happy family of mother Gaby and father Sonny is a proof that age is just a number when she is 12 years older than him and they already produced a beautiful baby after just more than a year of living together. Gaby came to the center in 1997 when she was only 3 three years old from a confiscation of an illegal trade as a result of effective collaboration between the EPRC and the local Forest Protection Department. Likewise, father Sonny, whose origin remains an obscurity to us, got rescued by the EPRC and have been living in the center since 2014.
A baby gibbon remains fully dependent on their mother for around 12 months. By the age of 2 years they begin to move independently from their mother. A young gibbon has a lot to learn, and stays with its parents until around 5-6 years of age, reaching full maturity at around 8 years.
» The majority of parental care belongs to the mother Gaby, but the father still hangs around to check on the baby every now and then.
Baby gibbon will wean at around one year of age, however starting from two or three months old, the baby can begin to eat fruits provided in her cage by our staff. At this stage, the baby needs to take shelter between the mother’s thighs and belly to keep warm, and it will stay with the mother closely during the first several months of its life. Then gradually, the baby will venture out from her mother’s warm protection and start playing on its own.
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