The Oregon Zoo is in full swing this week as new arrival Harper joins fellow white-cheeked gibbon Duffy in Red Ape Reserve. Visitors can find the playful pair swinging through the trees in the habitat they share with the orangutan family.
“Harper and Duffy started interacting right away,” said Kate Gilmore, who oversees the zoo’s primate area. “They traveled around the habitat together, then took a break to groom each other.”
White-cheeked gibbons bond through grooming, playing and swinging from tree to tree using their long arms. They also “sing” to one another to strengthen their bonds and mark their territory. Though they all share the species’ signature white cheeks, Gilmore says there’s an easy way to tell Harper and Duffy apart.
“Male white-cheeked gibbons have black fur, but females like Harper turn white or tan in adulthood,” Gilmore said.
Red Ape Reserve is home to both white-cheeked gibbons and Bornean orangutans. Harper and Duffy are exploring on their own this week, but orangutans Kitra, Bob and Jolene will join them in the habitat soon. Duffy is known for his playful antics around 1-year-old Jolene, and Gilmore predicts Harper will be part of the fun as well.
“At 7 years old, Harper is young and full of energy, just like Jolene,” said Gilmore. “We call Duffy ‘Uncle Duffy’ because of how interested he is in Jolene, and I think Harper will make a very fun aunt.”
Harper was born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 2015. Her move here was recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for gibbons, a cooperative program among accredited zoos to promote genetically diverse, self-sustaining populations of at-risk species.
White-cheeked gibbons are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Their numbers have declined by at least 80% over the past 50 years because of poaching and habitat loss from illegal logging and agriculture.
Source: Oregon Zoo