Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Zoosday Tuesday

***The opinions expressed on this blog are mine alone and are not endorsed by the Kansas City Zoo***

The White Cheeked Gibbon
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Image of: Nomascus leucogenys (northern white-cheeked gibbon)

What's the deal? I see one animal with white cheeks, but what's up with the blond? These are both white cheeked gibbons, the black one is the male and the blond is the female. These amazing animals change colors throughout their life. They all start out blond, regardless of sex, this helps them camouflage with the mother. Then at about two years old they all change to black. When they reach sexual maturity at about 6-8 years the females will go back to blond.

Gibbons are the only primates that are monogamous and mate for life. They form duets, that each have their own individual song.  At the Kansas City Zoo we have a young couple. The female is not quite sexually mature, she still has her black coloring, but in the next few years she will be ready to mate.

Gibbons are apes (but unlike orangutans, gorillas, chimps, and bonobos, they are called lesser apes.) This is only due to their size! Like great apes, they don't have tails, and they are highly intelligent.

Like orangutans, gibbons are arboreal, meaning that they spend all of their time high in the trees. They brachiate through the trees (meaning they swing by their arms from tree to tree.) Their arms are extremely long, their hands are hook shaped, and they have a ball-and-socket in their wrists. All of these features help them swing through the trees at up to 35mph.

There are 15 species of gibbon. They range all over South East Asia. The white cheeked gibbons are mainly found in Viet Nam and Cambodia.


  1. I love primates! When I was a kid, all I wanted was a monkey.

  2. My four year old and I had a great time with this post! THX!

  3. Aren't they just the most amazing animals?!? I love how their beauty, unique colouring, intelligence and their perfection!! I think they're just brilliant apes!! Take care

  4. that's so fascinating! I love that they mate for life and have duets, that's so sweet.