Fort Wayne Only U.S. Zoo to Display Rare Gibbons

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Press release from the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo:

Fort Wayne Only U.S. Zoo to Display Rare Gibbons

(August 10, 2010) – A pair of rare Javan gibbons is now on display at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, which is the only zoo in the United States to exhibit this endangered species.

Dieng, at left, has a darker head than Lionel. They are the only Javan gibbons in a United States zoo. Courtesy photo.

With fluffy gray fur and long arms, Javan gibbons Lionel, age 8, and his companion, seven-year old female Dieng (dee-ENG), are right at home in their tree-filled exhibit along the Indonesian Rain Forest boardwalk. Lionel came to Fort Wayne from the Gibbon Conservation Center in California, while Dieng came from the Belfast Zoo in Northern Ireland.

“We feel privileged to be the only U.S. zoo to exhibit these animals,” says Animal Curator Mark Weldon.

When first released into their exhibit following their mandatory quarantine and introduction period, Lionel and Dieng wasted no time swinging hand-over-hand on vines strung through the trees. Like most gibbons, the pair sings a melodic duet each morning to proclaim their presence in the forest.

Found only on the island of Java in Indonesia, the endangered Javan gibbon is under intense pressure from the island’s burgeoning human population. Java is home to more than 130 million people – that’s about half the population of the entire United States – jammed onto an island roughly the size of North Carolina. Only about 4,000 Javan gibbons remain in tiny patches of rain forest on the island.

Lionel is right at home in the Javan gibbons’ tree-filled exhibit.

The gibbons arrived in Fort Wayne earlier this summer after nearly two years of paperwork and special permits. Weldon’s personal interest in gibbons and connections in the zoo world made the transaction possible. Last week, a zoo representative made a presentation at an international gibbon conference in Indonesia, highlighting the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo’s commitment to gibbon conservation. In the last 20 years, the zoo has donated more than $100,000 to primate conservation in Indonesia.

Currently, the zoo is helping to protect Javan gibbons by supporting the Gibbon Conservation Center, the Silvery Gibbon Project, the Javan Gibbon Center, and the Wildlife Indonesia Foundation, all of which are working to save rain forest habitat and better understand these Javan jewels.


About the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo
The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is one of the area’s major attractions, drawing more than 500,000 visitors every year. The zoo was recently named one of the country’s “Top Ten Zoos for Kids” by Parents Magazine.

The zoo is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily until October 10. Admission is $13 for adults, $8 for children age 2-14, and $10 for seniors over age 60. Babies age 1 and under and Zoo Society Members are admitted free.

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