A white-cheeked baby gibbon is a new attraction at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, thanks to zoo-conservationists' efforts to boost the endangered species. The baby, born Aug. 16 and not yet named, shares an enclosure with its parents, Burma and Caruso, officials said Monday.
The gender of the baby gibbon remains unknown, but it is the fourth offspring of these parents, who were recommended to breed as part of the Gibbon Species Survival Program, a shared conservation effort by zoos that belong to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Chicago Tribune reports.
"Burma is holding the baby close and showing every sign of being a great mom," Curator of Primates Maureen Leahy, said in a statement. "The youngster is bright, alert, and clinging well."
The baby, joining older brother Sai, who will turn 3 in January, belongs to a critically endangered species of the small ape native to Southeast Asia. White-cheeked gibbons have declined by at least 80 percent in the past 45 years primarily due to hunting and habitat loss, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).
White-cheeked gibbons have extremely long arms, perfect for swinging from branch to branch. They’re born with a golden tan-like fur similar to their mothers'. During the first two years they will darken. If the baby is a male, it will remain black with its telltale white cheeks, while females will transition back to a tan color.
Burma and her baby are currently on display at the Lincoln Park Zoo’s Helen C. Brach Primate House – but zoo officials warn that the baby might be difficult to see.
“The baby may be hard to spot for the first few weeks, as he or she is being held tightly by mom. But it likely will not be long before the baby starts exploring the habitat with his or her big brother,” Leahy said.