Idaho Falls, ID – Idaho Falls Zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of Sahra, a female Mueller’s grey gibbon. Sahra (pronounced Saw-Ra) was born on January 23 and is the second baby for mother Shannon and father Sterling.
On April 30, 2017, Shannon gave birth to a male, Sid, who became popular from the “Saturdays with Sid” series on the zoo’s Facebook and YouTube channels. Sid had to be hand-raised by zoo staff for several months as Shannon was not able to nurse him. He was returned to his parents last fall, once he was able to eat solid foods and move around independently.
“Unlike Sid, Sahra is being raised by Shannon who has become a really good mom,” says Zookeeper Aaron Young. “She is extremely attentive to Sahra’s needs and is physically able to produce enough milk for her.”
At a little over three months old, Sahra spends all of her time clinging to mom. However, she is becoming more aware of her surroundings and has started to reach for things around her and grab onto food items. She is unable to eat solid food yet, but should be able to start expanding her diet in a few more months.
Gibbons are usually weaned at around one year-old and will stay with their parents for at least six years, however staying together for even longer is not uncommon. The Idaho Falls Zoo’s Mueller’s grey gibbon family will likely stay together much longer.
Sahra is only the 18th Muller’s grey gibbon in North America which makes her an important ambassador for the conservation of a species classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
So what does Sid think of his new little sister? According to Young, he is very aware of her. “Sid will watch her and even tries to reach out for her when mom allows it.”
Sid has become quite independent. However, because it was necessary for him to be hand-raised by zoo staff and volunteers, he still relies mainly on his caregivers to provide for his daily needs.
Gibbons have complex family structures led by a pair that usually mates for life. They are very territorial and defend their territory by performing early-morning calls. You may have heard the gibbons calling from the zoo, as the sound is loud and melodious. Females give birth to a single infant after a seven-month gestation.
Plan your visit now to see the Idaho Falls Zoo! The zoo will be open daily for the 2018 season starting at 9:00 a.m. on April 7.
The primate zookeepers are hoping to have the youngsters on public view daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., but the daily schedule is subject to change to accommodate the welfare needs of the animals.
Gibbons are included in a group known as lesser apes. They are part of the primate group that includes chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans (Hominoidea). The Mueller’s grey gibbon is native to the rainforests of Borneo and one of 18 species of gibbon. They spend most of their day foraging on high-sugar fruit and new leaves in trees, which is why they have very long arms and thumbs. They also have ball and socket joint in the shoulder that allows them to swing rapidly between branches in a motion known as brachiation. The young must grasp tightly onto mom’s chest, as she will move rapidly between the trees to feed. The Idaho Falls Zoo has two gibbon species, the Mullers’ grey and the white-handed gibbon.
Media Note: For more information or to schedule an interview with zoo staff, contact Public Information Officer, Kerry Hammon at (208) 612-8122 or [email protected].