White-Handed Gibbon

Lar Gibbon
Hylobates lar

Conservation Status: Endangered
Range: Southeast Asia and the islands of Indonesia
Habitat: Upper canopy of the tropical rainforest
Size: 17-25" tall; 15-20 pounds
Diet in the Wild: Mostly fruits, especially figs, leaves, flowers, insects, birds
Diet in the Zoo: Fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, leaf-eater biscuits
Lifespan: 30-35 years in captivity; up to 50 years in human care

Commonly called the white-handed gibbon, these acrobats use their very long arms to swing effortlessly among the tree branches in a specialized locomotion called brachiation. They can also change direction in a split second, propelling themselves up to 50 feet between branches at speeds up to 35 mph! Unlike most primates, which form large troops, gibbons live in small nuclear families made up of a male and female pair, along with their young. Pair-bonded gibbons "sing" aloud to announce their territory and reinforce familiar bonds. Their numbers have declined as a result of habitat loss, particularly due to unsustainable palm oil production and the exotic pet trade. 

Fun Facts!

  • Often confused with monkeys, gibbons are actually apes! 
  • Gibbons long arms (about 1.5 times the length of their legs) and their out-of-the-way thumbs make for excellent brachiation!