The Greenville Zoo is celebrating the birth of a siamang. Born March 14, the offspring is the first for parents Ella, 25 years old, and Oscar, 23 years old, and marks the first birth of the endangered species for the zoo in the last 21 years. Zoo staff will allow the family time to bond and will determine the gender over the next few weeks.
According to Greenville Zoo Director Jeff Bullock, the family is doing well and will continued to be closely monitored. “The birth of this threatened species is an extraordinary event, and we are thrilled to begin a new chapter with the zoo’s siamang breeding program. We hope people will venture out this week to enjoy the rare opportunity of seeing a baby siamang on exhibit.”
Ella is relatively new to the zoo, moving from the Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City, Kan. to the Greenville Zoo last summer as part of a breeding recommendation by the Gibbon Species Survival Plan (SSP). Oscar was born and raised at the Greenville Zoo. The zoo works directly with the SSP who make recommendations and develop long-term research and management strategies for the species. Currently, siamangs are critically endangered due to habitat destruction for logging and agriculture.
Siamangs are the largest species in the gibbon family, weighing 18-29 pounds and reach approximately 2½ to 3 feet tall. They have an arm spread of as much as 5 feet, allowing them to be spectacular brachiators (arm-over-arm swinging used for locomotion). Siamangs are arboreal (tree-dwelling) primates that consume leaves fruits, flowers and insects from the upper canopy of mountainous forest regions. One feature that distinguishes siamangs from other primates is the duet song that marks their territory with sound. It consists of loud booms and barks, amplified by resonating sounds across their inflated throat sacs. This vocalization can be heard several miles away.
Siamangs bear one offspring after a 7 to 8 month gestation period. For the first few months, the baby can be seen clinging to the mother’s abdomen. After 2 years old, the baby will begin to wean and become more independent. At about 7 years old they reach sexual maturity and leave their family group.