The Greenville Zoo announced today that the baby siamang born on January 6 to parents, Oscar and Ella, is a male. The baby is the pair’s second offspring, providing George, their two-year-old, with a baby brother. According to zoo director Jeff Bullock, while the zoo staff originally planned to hold a naming contest, they have decided to name the baby Arthur, Jr. (AJ) in honor of his uncle, Arthur, whose birthday he shares.
Arthur, who was born in 1994, was Oscar’s younger brother. The brothers were born and raised at the Greenville Zoo and had never been apart until 2014 when the Gibbon Species Survival Plan recommended that Arthur be transferred to the Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City, Kansas to be paired with a female. His new mate turned out to be Ella’s daughter, Suki.
Arthur recently passed away, so as a way to celebrate AJ’s birth and remember Arthur, the Greenville Zoo is asking zoo supporters to consider making a donation in the siamangs’ name to the Huro Programme. Established in 2009, the Huro Programme is the only conservation organization fully dedicated to the conservation of the Western Hoolock gibbon (ranked among the most endangered primate species in the world) in Northeast India and runs the Sonja Wildlife Rescue Center in Meghalaya for the rescue, rehabilitation and reintroduction of Western Hoolock gibbons.
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Greenville Zoo Director
About the Siamang
Currently, siamangs are critically endangered due to habitat destruction for logging and agriculture. While the illegal pet trade takes a toll on wild populations, the principal threat to the siamang is habitat loss in both Malaysia and Sumatra. The palm oil production industry is clearing large swathes of forest, reducing the habitat of the siamang, along with that of other species, such as the Sumatran tiger.
Siamangs are the largest species in the gibbon family, weighing 18-29 pounds and reaching approximately 30-36 inches in height. Siamangs are arboreal (tree-dwelling) primates that consume leaves, fruits, flowers and insects from the upper canopy of mountainous forest regions. They have an arm spread of as much as five feet, which makes them spectacular brachiators (primates that use an arm-over-arm swinging motion to propel themselves from tree to tree). 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 gestation period of seven to eight months. For the first few months, the baby can be seen clinging to the mother’s abdomen. After two years, the baby begins to wean and becomes more independent. Around age seven, siamangs reach sexual maturity and leave their family group.