Press Release: 12/19/2012

White Handed Gibbon Has New Honey Named Gladys

Nicky Mora, Senior Manager, Marketing/PR
(510) 632-9525 x130

Oakland, CA - December 19, 2012

Oakland Zoo's zookeepers are proud to announce a love connection on the Zoo's Gibbon Island. Resident white handed gibbon, Nikko, lost his mate to a medical illness within the last year. Since then, his morning songs, made up mostly of whoops and calls, have been unusually silent. His zookeepers tried to help him through the transition by providing stuffed animals and plenty of new enrichment in his exhibit; however, the primate has not been his cheerful self since the passing of his mate. Gibbons mate for life; therefore, zookeepers knew they needed to search for the "right" companion for Nikko.

Then came news about twelve-year-old, grape loving, Gladys, a blonde-haired Texan gibbon, residing at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, TX. She was in need of relocation. After careful consideration, Oakland Zoo officials worked out the proper paperwork with GPZ zookeepers and arrangements were made to move Gladys to Oakland. After a thirty-day quarantine and proper introductions, zookeepers are hoping Gladys and her honey-colored coat will win over longtime resident Gibbon, Nikko. So far, the pairing has gone well and zookeepers are optimistic the couple will continue to do well together.

"Prior to living at the Gladys Porter Zoo, Gladys had been privately owned," said Margaret Rousser, Zoological Manager. "As is the case with nearly all pet primates, she was quickly given up when her owners found she was too difficult to handle. Gladys is very lucky that she now has the opportunity to live with another gibbon in a natural social situation for her species. Primates should never be kept as pets, as it is extremely unfair to the animal.

About Gibbons
Gibbons lesser apes from southeast Asia. Their locomotion is primarily brachiation. Gibbons are one of the few truly monogamous primate species. They live in nuclear families that are very similar to human families of an adult pair and their offspring. They demonstrate their bond by grooming, sharing food, and singing together. Each species has a unique duet that they sing and the male and female each have their own parts to sing. Lar gibbons have a wide range of color variations, just like humans can have a wide range of hair colors. Gladys represents the lighter end of the spectrum and Nikko represents the darker end.

Gibbons are endangered due to deforestation and the pet trade. Many of the same issues that affect Orangutans (such as palm oil) also affect gibbons. The IUCN has listed them as endangered based on the belief that their numbers have decreased by more than 50% in the last 40 years. Gibbons are important to the environment as seed dispersers.


The Bay Area's award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 native and exotic animals. The Zoo offers many educational programs and kid's activities perfect for science field trips, family day trips and exciting birthday parties. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 500-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580. The East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization supported in part by members, contributions, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Parks. For more information please visit our website at