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Gibbons are known for a specialized form of swinging locomotion called brachiation. Bending its slender fingers, the hand forms a hook at the end of its long arm. Hooking onto a branch, the gibbon then swings itself forward to the next branch.

Gibbons are excellently adapted to life in the rainforest canopy. For example, these lesser apes are built for swinging among the trees with long arms and fingers. Gibbons are famous for their loud musical calls, which can carry over long distances to communicate through the dense foliage. Visitors to Gibbon Islands have the first-hand opportunity to see their aerial acrobatics and hear their melodic songs.

side view of buff cheeked gibbon

Did You Know?

Color Coded: The male and female gibbon are easy to distinguish; the male is black with white cheek patches and the female is golden.

Quick Facts

Latin Name:
Hylobales gabriellae

Southeast Asia

Tropical forest

1.5 to 2 ft

50 yrs

Zoo Location:
Gibbon Island

Fruit, leaves, and invertebrates

Risk Status:
Species at Risk (IUCN—Endangered)