|Mother & baby at Terra Natura|
In their continued efforts to instigate a breeding programme for endangered species, Terra Natura in Benidorm have succeeded yet again... this time with a "White handed Gibbon".
Gibbons are an endangered species due to many reasons but the primary cause is deforestation. The natural habitat of the "Hylobates Iar" better known as the White Handed Gibbon is South East Asia, where rainforests are disappearing at an alarming rate due to logging. In some areas they are also hunted for meat and in some Asian countries they are kept as pets. Laws protect them from live capture, but they are rarely enforced.
The breed is listed as an endangered species by the IUCN - the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which endevours to help the world find solutions to environmental and developmental challenges.
The White Handed Gibbon, like the gorilla, chimpanzee and orangutan, is an ape and NOT a monkey. They have long slender arms and the upper part of their hands and feet are always white - hence the name! The average weight of an adult is ap. 5.7kg and for the female ap 5.3kg. Their diet is mixed - they eat both plants and meat, but approximately 75% of their diet is fruit. They drink water, often by dipping a furry hand into the water then slurping up the water for their their fur.
Gibbons are extremely acrobatic and agile, spending most of their time swinging from branch to branch - this is called "brachiating". They use four fingers of their hand to create a hook - they do not use the thumb. In fact, when they are in the standing position, the arms are so long that they have to raise them above their head to avoid tripping over them!
|"Pau" clinging onto his mother Amy soon after birth|
Amy came to Terra Natura having lost her partner and was in mourning for 3 years. The park then tried to introduce her to a new male mate, Shantou, but it was a slow and gradual process - much as it is for us humans! Eventually after a year long "courtship", Amy gave birth to a baby boy weighing in at half a kilo in September. The staff at Terra Natura named him PAU.
Pau was constantly attached to its mother at first - it was amazing that he didn't fall off as she swung from branch to branch! Shantou, the father keeps his distance (sounds like a typical father) but occasionally shows some curiosity and approaches them from time to time.
Recently baby Pau has began to venture off from his mother for short periods of time and is slowly gaining confidence and independence. However, at the slightest noise or change Pau races back to the protective arms of his mother. He still takes milk from her but is also now starting to take solid food such as fruit and vegetables. As time passes, the proportion of solid food will increase as his reliance on his mother decreases ... that's what growing up is all about.
Here is a link to a You Tube video showing the protective mothering gibbon http://youtu.be/tACKOTCJFrI