White-Cheeked Gibbon

(Nomascus leucogenys)

Habitat and Distribution: Found in tropical and monsoon forest canopies throughout Laos, Vietnam, Hainan, southeastern China, and eastern Cambodia.

Size: 18-25 inches tall; 12-20 pounds

Wild Diet: Fruits, leaves, buds, flowers; occasionally insects, eggs and small young birds

Predators:
Humans, eagles, owls, and leopards

Lifespan: 25-30 years
  
Reproduction:
White-cheeked gibbons are ready to mate at about 5-8 years of age. Females give birth to one baby every 2-3 years after a gestation period of about 7 months. Infants cling to their mother from birth and are weaned early in their second year. By observing their parents and siblings, babies learn how to groom, socialize, and identify food sources. When offspring are mature, they usually leave the family group to search for a territory and mate of their own, but some stay with their families for up to 10 years.

Behavior: White-cheeked gibbons are arboreal and diurnal. They travel about a mile a day in search of food, starting in the high canopy and retreating to the understory as the day heats up.  Like all gibbons, they live in small families consisting of a monogamous breeding couple and 3-4 offspring. The adult female is the dominant member of the family, which is uncommon for apes. Mated pairs mark territory and strengthen their bond with loud vocal displays that travel hundreds of yards throughout the forest. The male hoots, squeals, and whistles while the female makes a rising twitter note.

Conservation

IUCN Status: Critically Endangered

Gibbons have a home range of about 75-100 acres and need travel about one mile per day through this range in search of food, but the forest they need is being fragmented and destroyed for human use. In some places, babies are taken from their mothers and sold as pets.

Did you know?

  • White-cheeked gibbons can swing from one branch to another that is 9 feet away.
  • When they are born, they are cream-colored like their mothers. Both males and females turn completely black when they are about one year old. As they develop into young adults, females turn back to their original cream color, while males stay black.