Gibbons arrive at Wildlife HQ on Sunshine Coast for breeding program – Michmutters

Gibbons arrive at Wildlife HQ on Sunshine Coast for breeding program

Critically endangered primates could soon be singing a romantic duet after being paired up to strengthen their species’ chances of survival.

The two white-cheeked gibbons arrived on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast a little over a week ago from their former home at a West Australian zoo, and carers said they were settling in nicely.

Male gibbon Tao came over to his new home with female Tian as a breeding pair after two years of planning and preparation at Wildlife HQ zoo.

Animal collections officer Nikki Mikula said watching the gibbons run, play and laze about was an excellent way to spend time.

Fluffy blonde-colored primate sitting on grass
Female white-cheeked gibbon Tian has been moved from Perth to the Sunshine Coast.(Supplied: Sue Tonga/ Wildlife HQ)

“Tao is a very gentle soul — he’s very cute, and nothing like Tian,” she said.

“Tian seems very sassy and certainly gets the message across with what she wants and needs, and bosses him around.”

A black fluffy primate with white sideburns
Tao has been described as a “gentle soul” after arriving at this new enclosure.(Supplied: Sue Tonga/ Wildlife HQ)

Ms Mikula said there were only a few hundred of the distinctive looking creatures left in the wild and the Sunshine Coast zoo was part of the Australasian gibbon breeding program.

A blonde colored gibbon reclining along a tree branch
Female gibbon Tian enjoys relaxing at her new home on the Sunshine Coast.(Supplied: Sue Tonga/ Wildlife HQ)

White-cheeked gibbons are thought to be extinct in their home forests in China and are now only found in parts of Vietnam and Laos.

Ms Mikula said she hoped the couple could make a difference.

“These two have been lined up to make a baby,” Ms Mikula said.

“So hopefully, once they’re settled in and showing all the right behaviours, we’ll see some action happening, and be able to report later in the year that maybe we’ll be expecting a baby.”

The breeding of gibbons is not a discreet process.

She said the first step was to ensure that both gibbons felt safe and healthy in their environment and were developing a strong bond with one another.


But after that, the experts and carers will be listening out for their language of love—an increasingly complicated and noisy serenade that the pair sing as they prepare to mate.

“We’re still yet to hear them sing together — gibbons are pretty well known for their song that they sing once they are bonded,” Ms Miluka said.

“The female starts it off, and then the male continues and it’s a bit of a duet.

“So once they’re fully settled and bonded and know that this is their new home, I have no doubt that we’ll start hearing them across the zoo.”


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