Perth Zoo is home to two of the most endangered gibbon species in the world, the White-cheeked and Javan Gibbons. Sadly, these two species face the very real possibility of becoming extinct in our lifetime – but we’re working hard to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Habitat destruction and booming populations has pushed both the endangered Javan and critically endangered White-cheeked Gibbons into smaller territories and fragmenting their population. But, sadly, the biggest threat to both these species is the illegal pet and wildlife trade.
Perth Zoo’s Primate Supervisor, Holly Thompson said: “It doesn’t discriminate. Often people think that it’s the rich and influential that have them as pets, but it can be small villages, families, or people who can’t have children.”
But there is a glimmer of hope for both these species.
Perth Zoo leads the Australasian breeding programs for these species to ensure there are populations of these beautiful gibbons in zoos as an insurance against extinction.
“They are definitely one of those species that really needs the insurance populations through Zoos, and we’ve been working extremely hard for years on that,” said Holly.
The breeding programs at Perth Zoo have seen 11 White-cheeked Gibbons and over 10 Javan Gibbons successfully born (woohoo!) with some having gone on to have offspring of their own in zoo’s around the world!
But playing cupid isn’t the only thing we do to help these animals. Over the years we’ve partnered with global conservation organisations, such as TRAFFIC, Flora and Fauna International and the Silvery Gibbon Program, to help with conservation efforts in the wild. This has included educating local communities about the importance of the species and their local environment, employing community rangers, and supporting the rehabilitation of rescued ex-pet gibbons.
“It’s really awesome how from our little Zoo here in Australia we are able to have those discussions and set up conservation projects with our partners and make a difference from afar,” said Holly.
Teamwork makes the dream work – and there’s a lot YOU can do to help save gibbons from going extinct.
Donate to Perth Zoo's Wildlife Conservation Action fund here.