On the 24th of October each year, gibbons took centre stage to raise awareness for the species and to highlight the importance of gibbon conservation. Paradise Wildlife Park the Zoological Society of Hertfordshire comes together today to celebrate International Gibbon Day, in the effort to help bring awareness to these magnificent acrobats of the South Asian Rainforests.
International Gibbon Day emphasises the importance of working towards the prevention of poaching for the illegal pet trade, as well as consolidating efforts with local communities living within the habitat ranges of gibbons to work together to protect this species and the wider range of biodiversity within the rainforests. This work is carried out by Association Anoulak who work to protect gibbons and the wider rainforests throughout one of their natural habitats in the Annamite Mountains of Laos.
There are a total of 18 species of gibbons and all are endemic to Southern Asia. Out of the 18, seven of them are native to China, including the newest discovered species, the Skywalker hoolock gibbon, which was first spotted in 2017. Here at Paradise, we are home to two species of gibbon, the northern white-cheeked gibbons and lar gibbons, whose wild habitats are southern Asia. Our gibbon groups are always up to mischief in their habitat and love nothing more than showing off for their keepers and visitors. Within our northern white-cheeked group, Newt is a very special individual here at Paradise, as well as for the species as a whole. Newt has been with us here at the Park since 2009 and is the oldest northern white cheeker gibbon within the European breeding programme. zoos Her sweet nature and nosey behaviour continues to steal the hearts of the keepers.
Both the northern white-cheeked gibbon and lar gibbon are part of the ape family and are classed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Even though they are classed as lesser apes, they are by no means lesser in importance. However, with no records of sightings of the northern white-cheeked gibbon in China since 1990, there is increasing fear that this species may have already become extinct in parts of its wild range. Northern white-cheeked gibbons have seen a species’ population decline by 80 percent or more over the past 45 years. With only a handful of this species expected to be remaining within the forests of South East Asia, the northern white-cheek gibbon has become the forgotten apes of the world. Paradise partners closely with the Association Anoulak donating annually to their efforts in protecting the species of gibbons. With gibbons possessing exceptionally long arms, which are used to swing through the treetops at high and efficient speeds and can cover more than ten feet in a single swing between branches. They are not the easiest animals to protect as they frequently cross areas of large distances in short periods. However, with efforts such as the Association Anoulak, we hope this species can thrive once more in their natural habitat.