Amid preparations for a weekend of winter weather, Greenville Zoo welcomed a new addition on Friday: a baby siamang born on-site to parents in the zoo.
The baby is the second offspring for Ella, age 27, and Oscar, 25, whose first, George, was born in March 2015 to mark a new era for endangered siamang breeding at the zoo.
Zoo staff will announce the gender of the new baby once it’s determined in the weeks to come, and plans for its name will follow.
Visitors are expected to be able to see the newborn and Ella on exhibit later this week, with warmer weather in the forecast.
Currently the entire family is being given space to bond and doing well while being closely monitored, according to Greenville Zoo Director Jeff Bullock.
“This is another important birth for the Greenville Zoo and the Gibbon Species Survival Plan, but what will be even more exciting for our guests is watching these two youngsters growing up together,” said Bullock. “Ella and Oscar have proven themselves to be great parents, and now we get to see what kind of big brother George will be.”
Ella came to Greenville Zoo from the Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City, Kansas, in 2014 as part of a breeding recommendation by the Gibbon Special Survival Plan, which makes recommendations and develops long-term research and management strategies for the species. Oscar was born and raised at the Greenville Zoo.
Siamangs are critically endangered due to habitat destruction for logging and agriculture, experts say.
Siamangs are the largest species in the gibbon family, weighing 18-29 pounds and reaching about 30-36 inches in height. Siamangs are arboreal 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, or 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