Gibbons update from the Zoo Administrator

Dear Zoo Supporter,

I wanted to share with you an update on our gibbons.

At Reid Park Zoo, animal well-being is a top priority. It is the reason we designed the new gibbon habitat that was created from years of research on the types of environments that are most enriching for primates. The outdoor habitat includes features such as a larger physical space, greater vertical height for these arboreal animals, a large sturdy artificial tree plus two live trees and an arboreal exploration tunnel with elevated platform to allow these apes a greater vantage point.

Behind the scenes include climate controlled bedrooms, hammocks and sleeping platforms as well as built in scales and other components used for the care of these animals.

We cautiously transitioned the animals to their new home on December 22nd, and the relocation went smoothly. After the gibbons adjusted to their new bedrooms, we provided them access to the entire new habitat. Our staff carefully monitored their behavior to ensure positive adjustment, looking for signs of optimal welfare such as diet in-take, activity level, and vocalizations.

Despite the research that suggests the new habitat should be more enriching, and provide increased positive welfare, there are always exceptions to the rule. We care for animals as individuals and each individual is unique. Recently, a couple of gibbons were not showing the signs of positive adjustment we would like to see. Our staff noticed a decreased appetite, and reduced interaction and engagement with our oldest female. While we can’t conclusively suggest these are a direct result of the change in environment, it is a possibility that should not be ignored. As such, we feel it is in the animals’ best interest to keep them all together as a family unit and move the entire troop back to their former habitat while our animal care and veterinary team provides close watch and care.  The gibbons will be off exhibit during this transition period as they adjust to the move.

Our priority is the welfare of the three gibbons at Reid Park Zoo. Once they have settled into a routine, we will then focus on working with our colleagues in other Zoos to determine another species for the new exhibit. Moving forward, we have full confidence in our animal care professionals making this decision in order to provide the best care for these animals.

Thank you,

Jason Jacobs
Zoo Administrator