Endangered ape gives birth, but sex still unknown

Three Weeks after birth of Lar Gibbon in Ramat Gan Safari, over-protective mother still not letting Zoo officials to get close enough to determine baby's gender.

March 31, 2011 17:12
1 minute read.
Lar Gibbon

Lar Gibbon. (photo credit: Safari Park Ramat Gan)

An unexpected birth – and a bit of a mystery – at the Safari Park in Ramat Gan.

Earlier this month, Safari staff noticed Bettina, a 32-year-old Lar Gibbon, swinging from branch to branch with a baby attached to her belly.  She had last given birth 11 years ago, and no one at the Safari expected her — or for that matter any of its three resident Gibbons – to breed again. 

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Safari officials note that it is quite normal for mothers to closely guard their newborns.  Yet three weeks have passed, and Bettina has still not allowed anyone to approach her. So its anyone's guess at this point whether the newborn is male or female.

Like most apes, Lar Gibbons are an endangered species. They are tail-less and live in tropical forests in South-east Asia. They are monogamous and live in small family groups. Each family declares its territory with calls that can be heard as far away as 9 km.

At the Safari zoo, as in many zoos around the world, the Gibbons live on an island. They do not swim.

It is expected that in about four months, the baby will try to hang from tree branches. In six months, the young gibbon will already be able to walk on two feet.

This is the second birth of an endangered ape at the Safari in less than a year. Eight months ago, 41 year-old Rochale surprised Safari staff when she gave birth for the first time in 10 years. 

Officials at the Safari are confident that Bettina will be able to raise her baby to aulthood.

(Photo Courtesy: Safari Park Ramat Gan)

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