< Back To Blogs
Rare Baby Gibbon Born at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo
Posted on May 15, 2011 at 12:16:38 pm by Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo
A rare baby Javan gibbon born at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo on March 14 is making its public debut this week. The baby's parents are the only pair of Javan gibbons to be exhibited in an accredited United States zoo. The baby, a male, was named Jaka, which means "young man" in an Indonesian language. He is now the only baby Javan gibbon in an accredited U.S. zoo. "This birth is significant for the future of Javan gibbons," says zoo animal curator Mark Weldon. "Only two Javan gibbons were born in captivity worldwide in the last year." The baby's parents, Lionel (male) and Dieng (female) arrived at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo in August 2010. Lionel came to Fort Wayne from the Gibbon Conservation Center in California, while Dieng came from the Belfast Zoo in Northern Ireland. Carrying 2-month-old Jaka does not slow Dieng down. Jaka is too young to venture off on his own, so he spends all his time clinging to Dieng. This is no easy task, because Dieng swings, leaps, and climbs through the spacious exhibit. She'll stop periodically to adjust the baby when he slides off her belly and ends up on her leg. "So far, Dieng is being a good mother," says Weldon. Young gibbons stay with their parents for up to seven years. Our zoo is part of an international consortium working to establish Javan gibbons in captivity. Because these gibbons are critically endangered in the wild, conservation groups and zoos are establishing a captive population in case the wild population would collapse. "By studying the reproductive behavior and genetics of captive Javan gibbons, we can learn things that will help the wild population as well," Weldon says. Found only on the island of Java in Indonesia, the endangered Javan gibbon is under intense pressure from the island's burgeoning human population. Java is home to more than 130 million people - that's about half the population of the entire United States - jammed onto an island roughly the size of North Carolina. Only about 4,000 Javan gibbons remain in tiny patches of rain forest on the island. The Fort Wayne Children's Zoo has a strong commitment to primate conservation in Indonesia. In the last 20 years, the zoo has donated more than $100,000 to protect monkeys, gibbons, and orangutans in Indonesia and other parts of Asia. Learn more about the zoo's conservation partners here.