Sunset Zoo welcomes baby gibbon


A baby white-handed gibbon was born at Sunset Zoo in Manhattan on June 8. Both the baby and mother are doing well, according to a press release from the zoo.

White-handed gibbons are small tailless apes with soft, thick fur. The Sunset Zoo now has three white-handed gibbons: the two parents and the newborn.

“We got these guys in 2012 from North Carolina, and they’ve been with us ever since,” Rachel Herrod, marketing and development officer at Sunset Zoo, said. “And they did come together as a couple.”

Robert Chase, the primate zookeeper at Sunset Zoo, said zookeepers still need time to determine the sex of the baby. Chase said they will not be able to know whether the baby is male or female until it urinates or the animal changes color. The zookeepers cannot currently get close enough to the baby to identify its sex, and this process could take up to a year.

“The baby gibbon will be nursed until it’s two years old,” Chase said. “After that it will be primarily solid foods, typical diet of greens and vegetables. This is her [the mother gibbon’s] first baby. She has been pregnant a few times, but this one is the only one that actually succeeded.”

Herrod said Rachel and Stephen Woodward, the benefactors of the gibbon exhibit, were some of the first people to see the baby white-handed gibbon.

“They were super excited,” Herrod said. “You know, gibbons are a very endangered species, especially the white-handed gibbons. Anything we can do for the conservation, we are willing to do.”

Not only were the benefactors excited to see the baby white-handed gibbon, community members are also interested in seeing the newborn ape.

“I saw the Facebook post yesterday [about the new gibbon], which was the reason for us to come to see the baby,” Rene Douglas, resident of Fort Riley, said. “It is really different to see a little animal at a zoo like this. When we came a couple of weeks ago, the exhibit was closed because they were taking care of the animals.”

For those wanting to see the baby white-handed gibbon, the Sunset Zoo is open 360 days a year, excluding Thanksgiving, the Friday after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas and new year’s day.