BROOKFIELD, Ill. | Guests who venture to Brookfield Zoo this winter can warm up in Tropic World, where they can see one of the newest residents in the Asia section - a white-cheeked gibbon born Nov. 13. The 1-month-old male, named Reo (pronounced Ray-O), which means "fast" in Thai, can be seen with his mom, Indah, and dad, Benny, during most of the day. Those who miss them on exhibit while visiting the zoo can visit www.BrookfieldZoo.org to see recent video and photos.
The baby ape can be hard to spot because newborn gibbons sport a form of camouflage: a blonde-colored coat matching that of their mothers. Both sexes retain this light coloring for most of their first year of life. By the time they are a little over 1 years old, they are for the most part all black with light colored cheek patches. As they become adults and reach sexual maturity at around age 6 or 7, females will turn blonde again with a small patch of black on their crown. Males retain their black coloration and white-cheeked patches for life.
Indah, 19, and Benny, 22, have been together at Brookfield Zoo since August 1995. Indah was born at Minnesota Zoological Garden and Benny was born in Leipzig, Germany. They are managed as a breeding pair at Brookfield Zoo based on a recommendation by the Gibbon Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Currently, 76 white-cheeked gibbons are exhibited in 26 North American zoos.
All gibbon species are known for the incredible calls they make. The male and female calls differ and they "duet" together, typically in the mornings. The duets, which can be heard for long distances, help define the pair's territory and announce their presence to other gibbons.
Gibbons are almost exclusively arboreal, making their homes high in the canopy of trees. Of the 250 or so species of primates in the world, gibbons are among the best suited to life in the trees. Gibbons are monogamous, meaning they live as adult male/female pairs along with up to four offspring. White-cheeked gibbons are highly endangered and are found in Laos, Vietnam and China.
- THE TIMES