By Brooke Chavez
Junior is a 41-year-old white-handed gibbon that lives in the Outback section of our sanctuary, and is one of four gibbons calling Primarily Primates home. He was released to Primarily Primates in 1986 from a private owner in San Antonio, where he lived as a pet. His father, Pepito, was captured in Vietnam, and his mother, Vicky, was born at a local zoo.
White-Handed Gibbons are endangered lesser apes and native to Asia. In the wild, they live in forests and prefer to stay high up in the canopy of trees. Their diets consist mainly of leaves, flowers, fruit, and seeds. Gibbons have very long arms, which enables them to swing effortlessly and quickly among the tree branches, where they spend a majority of their time.
At 41, Junior is geriatric (gibbons in the wild usually live to be 25-30 years). Care Staff have been instrumental over the last few years to keep Junior as comfortable as possible during his “golden years.” Anyone with domesticated animals at home knows how difficult it can be to care for an aging animal; just imagine how much more complicated it could be if that animal can swing like an acrobat and leap long distances above your head!
Junior shares his habitat with his daughter, Skosho, and they seem to enjoy grooming each other’s thick golden fur. Gibbons in the wild are known for singing songs to establish territorial boundaries and attract potential mates. Junior and Skosho are not much different from their wild counterparts - they sing duets that can be heard by our sanctuary neighbors up to two miles away. These duets usually happen in the morning and afternoon and lasts for about 10-20 minutes. They are one of the most beautiful sounds we hear every day – a regular animal opera performance. (People unfamiliar with these sounds frequently think they are hearing birds.)
Junior’s primary caretaker, Arden, had the following things to say about him:
He was a little timid at first. However, after hours spent caring for him we developed a relationship. Our mutual bond and the trust we have in each other enables me to provide him the care that he needs. He now takes his protein supplements and novelty enrichment treats directly from my hand.
He always participates in enrichment whether its scatter, puzzle feeders, or whole produce offered in challenging ways.
When it’s cold and he doesn’t want to be outside, he still participates in duets with Skosho from the comforts of his heated night building.
Even though he is elderly, he is still very mobile and I frequently see him hanging by one arm swinging back and forth, using his feet to kick off the habitat wall and swing himself higher.
He can also be seen chasing dragon flies and butterflies around his habitat.
Thank you for visiting and getting to know Junior. If you are interested in becoming his sponsor, please click here. Remember to check back often for your personal peek into sanctuary life at Primarily Primates.