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Thursday 14 April 2011: Buff-cheeked gibbon

A beautiful Spring day today, so I decided it would be a great day to go down to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens and check out their Zoo Blooms event, which features mass plantings of daffodils, hyacinths and over 93,000 tulips, as well as flowering trees, shrubs and other Spring bulbs. I also wanted to see the new baby giraffe, born on April 2nd. Unfortunately I couldn't get a good picture of her, as they're keeping her inside at present, so you could only view her and her mother through glass, and there were too many reflections. Cincinnati Zoo was the first zoo in the Western hemisphere to have a giraffe born in captivity back in 1889, but they haven't had one for 26 years, so it was a big event. The mother, Tessa, is a young four-year old giraffe, who came to Cincinnati from Houston Zoo, and is a first time mother, so there was concern as to whether she would be a good mother. So far, however, she seems to be very attentive. You can see a short video of the baby's early moments here if you're interested - talk about a rough way to come into the world - dropping head first from a height of about five feet!

The buff-cheeked gibbon, featured as my blip, is native to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. It lives in tall evergreen and semi-evergreen forest, but sometimes also ranges into mixed bamboo and woodland forest. Male and female gibbons are virtually the same size, although the different sexes can be easily told apart when they are adults due to the color of the hair. Baby gibbons of both sexes are born blond to blend into their mother?s hair and later turn black. Males remain black throughout their lives, with the distinguishing golden cheeks that give the species their name. Females, however, then turn back to blond at sexual maturity, and only have a black cap of hair on the top of their heads.
They feed mainly on fruit and leaves. They are highly territorial and use their musical calls to mark their territory. Gibbons also provide one of the few examples of true monogamy among the mammals - they live in small groups, which usually consist of a mated pair and their offspring.
Buff-cheeked gibbons face many threats in the wild, predominantly the human hunting of this species for meat and the pet trade, but habitat destruction due to deforestation, logging, and agricultural expansion are further threats to this species. Because of these threats, the population of buff-cheeked gibbons in the wild has been reduced by 50 percent over the past 45 years and is listed as Endangered, meaning that this species is facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild.

One year ago: Reflections in the stream

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