White-Handed Gibbons

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Scientific Name:
Hylobates lar

Feeding Type:
Primarily Herbivorous

South East Asia

Rainforests, tall trees

Diet in the Wild:
Fruits, leaves, buds, insects, and occasionally birds and eggs

Diet at the Zoo:
Fruit, vegetables

25 – 30 years in the wild.

Measuring between 18 to 25 inches, these gibbons weigh between 10 to 18 pounds. The gibbon’s skin is black and the fur around its face, hands, and feet are white. They are uniformly colored, but colors may vary from cream to red, brown or almost black.

The white-handed gibbons become active shortly after dawn, when the male and female begin their “duet” that reinforces their bond. The feet of the gibbons are like the palms of their hands; bare, leathery and skinned for effective gripping. The big toe is able to grasp in opposition to the toes, enabling the gibbon to walk upright along branches. Their distinctively long arms and hook like hands help the gibbon move through the trees, in swings spanning 10 feet.

Gibbons form a monogamous pair and their gestation period is between 210 to 235 days. Single births occur and the offspring suckles for about 18 months. The young reaches adult size by six years, and full maturity by nine.

White-handed gibbons are endangered. Deforestation and hunting by humans are the major threats.

Interesting Facts

  • The gibbon’s swinging movement is called brachiation. It saves energy by maintaining momentum, using the body as a pendulum.
  • Mutual grooming strengthens and maintains bonds between 2 individuals.
  • Gibbons are considered apes, and not monkeys. Apes do not have tails.