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Courtesy Fort Wayne Children's Zoo

Fort Wayne Children's Zoo offers 1st view of baby gibbon

Courtesy Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo

Statement as issued Wednesday morning by the zoo:

A rare Javan gibbon was born on April 16 at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo. The male infant is one of only seven born in zoos worldwide and one of two born in North America in the past 12 months, according to an international database.

Javan gibbons are small, gray-furred apes found only on the island of Java in Indonesia, where they are endangered. The Fort Wayne Children's Zoo is one of only two accredited zoos in North America to exhibit this species.

The baby, who has not yet been named, is the second infant born to Javan gibbons Dieng (female) and Lionel (male). Their first baby, a male named Jaka, was born on March 14, 2011 and still lives with Dieng and Lionel at the zoo. Young gibbons remain with their family for about seven years.

"We are thrilled with the birth," says Animal Curator Mark Weldon. "Dieng is being a good mother and the baby appears healthy."

The baby clings to Dieng's belly and does not yet move about on his own. For now, the entire gibbon family remains indoors in their night quarters with occasional access to the overhead chute that connects the indoor quarters to the outdoor exhibit. It is possible for zoo guests to see the gibbons when they are in the overhead chute. The family will not move into the tree-filled, two-story exhibit until keepers are certain that mom and baby are ready and daytime temperatures are consistently above 60 degrees.

The Javan gibbons are exhibited along the Tree Tops Trail Boardwalk in the zoo's Indonesian Rain Forest.

The Fort Wayne Children's Zoo is part of an international consortium working to establish Javan gibbons in captivity. Because of the gibbons' precarious status in the wild, conservation groups and zoos are establishing a captive population in case the wild population would collapse.

Lionel and Dieng arrived at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo in August 2010. Lionel came to Fort Wayne from the Gibbon Conservation Center in California, while Dieng came from the Belfast Zoo in Northern Ireland.

The zoo supports Javan gibbon habitat preservation efforts, population studies and an in situ research project that explores the connection between coffee plantations and Javan gibbons' rain forest habitat.

Javan gibbons are one of three species featured in the zoo's newest conservation program, entitled Kids4Nature. Zoo guests receive a recycled washer at the ticket booth and use it to "vote" among three conservation programs supported by a $50,000 zoo conservation fund.

Found only on the island of Java in Indonesia, the endangered Javan gibbon is under intense pressure from the island's burgeoning human population. Java is home to more than 130 million people – that's about half the population of the entire United States – jammed onto an island roughly the size of North Carolina. Only about 4,000 Javan gibbons remain in tiny patches of rain forest on the island.

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