Primate Keepers at Port Lympne Reserve, Kent’s award winning wild animal park, are celebrating as the first Javan gibbon to be born at the park in six years, makes its public debut.
Born at the end of December last year, the precious primate has been clinging closely to his mother during the first developing weeks and it is still too soon for Keepers to be able to identify whether the baby is a boy or a girl.
Animal Manager and Head of Primate Section, Simon Jeffery said: ‘As Port Lympne is celebrating its 40th Birthday throughout 2016, we couldn’t have wished for a better present to start the year. The last baby gibbon born here was in 2009, so we’re absolutely thrilled to welcome this little one to our gibbon family.’
The cute youngster is yet to be named and is the first birth for mother, Belle and father, Gapak. Keepers are impressed with the way that the two first time parents are looking after their new arrival.
Simon added: ‘Belle and Gapak are excellent first time parents. Belle is very relaxed and sweet natured towards the infant and Gapak is being very considerate towards his mate by letting her have first choice of food and giving her the space she needs to care for their little one.’
The gibbon birth is not only great news for the Reserve, near Ashford, but is a positive sign for the future of the species. Critically endangered in the wild, Javan gibbon numbers have dramatically declined due to hunting and the illegal pet trade.
Working with the conservation charity – The Aspinall Foundation, Port Lympne have sent a number of primates including a female Javan gibbon back to their Javan Primate Project in Indonesia, in order to boost the wild populations.
Simon said ‘It’s too early to tell yet but we hope that this little one will be a good candidate to send to our Java Primate Project and the forests that we protect in the area. In the meantime we’re enjoying watching the infant grow and develop. Visitors to the Reserve should be able to see our lovely gibbon family during our Jump for Java event at the end of January, as we’ll be celebrating the success of our Java Primate Project.’
The Jump For Java event will be held on Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st of January at Port Lympne Reserve. Visitors will be able to take part in free activities, talks and craft making sessions, plus meet some of the keepers from the Reserve who have firsthand knowledge of working at the Javan Primate Project in Indonesia.