Oakland Zoo’s “Prime Mates”
by | February 21st, 2013

Two of our animals have been very popular over the past few months. Do you know who they are? They are Nikko and Gladys, our white-handed gibbon residents. You may be wondering what makes these two so special? Well, not only are they the only two white-handed gibbons at the Oakland Zoo, but they are also a new couple.

Gibbons are monogamous, meaning they mate for life. However, sadly this past year, Nikko, our male white-handed gibbon, lost his mate to a medical illness. He handled the loss similar to how humans would and went through a mourning cycle. During this time, zookeepers got to work searching for a potential companion for him. Luckily, they came across Gladys, a blonde-haired Texan gibbon from the Gladys Porter Zoo, who needed a new home.

Thus began the love connection process to bring Gladys to Oakland Zoo to meet Nikko. After thirty days of quarantine and proper introductions, the gibbons began residing on Gibbon Island together.

Nikko and Gladys are not just ‘roomies,’ but have become mates. Signs that they are getting along well include hugging, grooming, and even singing duets during their morning songs. Everyone here at the Zoo is extremely elated that this match has worked out; media and visitors have enjoyed watching the new couple too.

Quick Facts:

Similar to human hair color, gibbons also have a wide range of color variations. Nikko represents the darker end of the color spectrum, while Gladys, with her blonde hair, represents the lighter end. Gibbons are lesser apes originating from southeast Asia. One can tell the difference between an ape and a monkey by whether or not the primate has a tail or not. Tail equals monkey; no tail equals ape. Here’s a word of the day that applies to this species: brachiation. Brachiation is simply the movement of swinging with the arms from one hold to the next, similar to how children play on the ‘monkey bars’ on the school playground.

Thanks for reading the Oakland Zoo Blog. Now don’t forget to share this blog and impress your friends with all your newly gained knowledge about the gibbon species and our very special residents, Gladys and Nikko, at the Oakland Zoo. Don’t miss out on all the great media attention about this love story either. Check it out.

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