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Toledo Zoo staff gives new gibbon mother time to bond; baby’s gender isn’t known

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A baby gibbon is cuddled by its mother, Hue, during its first day of public display on Thursday at the Toledo Zoo. The newborn’s gender hasn’t been determined. At left is Quon, a male sibling.

The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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Mama Hue and Papa Batu introduced their newest offspring to spectators Thursday at the Toledo Zoo’s Primate Forest.

The baby gibbon, which has not been named yet, was born on Nov. 27.

Animal care staff have not determined its gender because they are allowing the mother and baby to bond without human intervention, Randi Meyerson, curator of mammals, said. Staff have been keeping a close eye, because gibbons tend to have a higher incidence of maternal neglect than other primate species.

“This can be a stressful time for mom and baby,” Ms. Meyerson said. “But mom is doing great.”

Zoo staff are expected to examine the baby within the next month, Ms. Meyerson said.

Hue — pronounced “way” — and her baby are easy to spot because both are cream-colored, while the other gibbons are black. Baby gibbons are born a cream color, darkening as they mature. Males stay black their whole lives, but females, when they reach maturity, change back to cream color.

Part of the ape family, gibbons are a very social species. The baby gibbon spent most of its first afternoon in the primate exhibit playing with its siblings, Jin Huan, 6 and Quon, 4.

The gibbon’s birth is cause for celebration by zoo officials — the species faces extinction.

Found in southern Asia, gibbons spend all of their lives in trees in the tropical rainforest, but deforestation, hunting, and poaching threaten their survival, Ms. Meyerson said.

As part of its effort to preserve the species, the Toledo Zoo participates in a Species Survival Plan in conjunction with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Through this cooperative breeding and conservation program, the Toledo Zoo works with other zoos around the country to ensure a future for many species.

Hue is owned by the Oregon Zoo, while Batu is owned by the National Zoo in Washington.

Both animals were loaned to the Toledo Zoo in 1998.

To mentally stimulate the gibbons, zoo workers on Thursday placed bags and tubes in their quarters that had been filled with treats such as frozen cereal.

The animals must open the containers to get to the goodies, simulating the foraging actions they would utilize in the wild.

“It stimulates them psychologically,” Ms. Meyerson said.

“We don’t want them to get bored.”

Contact Federico Martinez at: fmartinez@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.

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