Akron Zoo announces birth of white-cheeked gibbon (photo)

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AKRON, Ohio – Akron Zoo announced the birth of a white-cheeked gibbon on Friday – a first in zoo history.

The zoo’s female gibbon, Parker, gave birth on December 9. The sex of the baby gibbon is not known at this time, the zoo said. Parker is a caring mother and the baby gibbon is doing well, according to the zoo. The baby is the first for the bonded pair Parker and Milo. The family will join the zoo’s indoor habitat on December 18. The couple visited the Akron Zoo’s Lehner Family Foundation Wild Asia new area in May from Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado.

The zoo plans to hold a contest to name the baby in the future.

A species of little monkey, the white-cheeked gibbons are native to Southeast Asia. The species is listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature on the Red List due to habitat loss, mainly due to deforestation to build oil palm plantations. The Aboriginal population has declined by about 80 percent over the past 45 years.

“We are delighted to welcome this baby gibbon to our Akron Zoo family,” President and CEO Doug Piekarz said in a press release. “This baby is very important and it’s a big step forward for this critically endangered species. I am proud of the hard work and dedication of the Gibbon care team throughout Parker’s pregnancy. The baby is the best holiday gift for us at Akron Zoo.

Akron Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and participates in the Gibbon Species Survival Plan, a breeding program that aims to create a healthy and genetically diverse population of white cheeked gibbons. In order to prevent the species from becoming extinct, the zoo has teamed up with Vietnam’s Pu Mat National Park, home to one of the largest populations of gibbons in the world, to study the animal’s behavior.

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