We’ve been on an animal kick lately! Because SoCal weather is great year round, there are a lot of conservation centers in the area. The latest one we discovered is the Gibbon Conservation Center in Santa Clarita, just 40 minutes northwest of LA.
Did you know that 2015 is the Year of the Gibbon for the IUCN?
We didn’t know much about gibbons before visiting. The first thing we learned was that they are commonly mistaken for monkeys, but they are actually apes! The easiest way to distinguish between a monkey and an ape is the tail. If it has a tail, it’s a monkey.
There are 17 different species of gibbons in the world, and the conservation center is home to 5 of them. They were a whole lot of fun to watch. What we found most fascinating was that they sing together, sometimes duets. They each have their own unique calls that are used for marking their territories, communicating with each other, and even mating.
Gibbons eat fruit, young leaves, flowers, bird eggs, insects and birds. At the center they feed them a mix of fruit, nuts, and chicken. The Northern White Cheeked Gibbon is the rarest primate in the world currently in a successful breeding program. There are fewer than 500 left in the wild.
These are the pileated gibbons. Their song has a unique bubbling sound.
Check out the eye brows on the Eastern Hoolock Gibbon. Eyebrows on fleek!
The Siamang can be heard up to 2 miles through the dense forest canopy. They are the loudest land mammal on earth, and check out their sac that inflates when they sing.
More fun facts about them:
- Gibbons are the only non-human primate that primarily walks on 2 legs.
- They can leap up to a distance of 50 feet between trees!
- Their arms are 1.5 times longer than their legs.
- They can move at speeds up to 35 mph.
PRO TIPS FOR VISITING THE GIBBON CONSERVATION CENTER:
- Public Tours are every Saturday and Sunday 9:30 AM to noon. Closed when raining and holidays.
- Admission: Adults $15, Teens & Students $10, Children 6-12 $5, Under 5 Free.
- There isn’t much shade, so bring a wide brim hat or an umbrella to hold over you. :P
- Wear closed toed shoes. They do their best to keep them away, but there are still a lot of ants and you don’t want to get bit.
- Wear plenty of sunscreen and bring some extra to reapply.
- Catch the tour at 10AM to hear more about each species and get to know the families. Each tour usually ends with them singing too!
- They also offer private tours for any day of the week. Minimum charge of $120, which covers 8 people.
Gabi, who is the director of the center and has been working there for 10 years, gave us a tour of their space. We walked around to meet the different Gibbons as she told us more about each family and species. We got the chance to see them feed the apes and ended the tour with an indescribable experience of hearing them all sing. Check out the video:
What we love about the center is that they’ve created a great space to watch the animals. They have benches in front of each cage where you can watch the families (and if you’re like me, come up with stories and plot lines). You can tell that they really love the gibbons and are continuing to improve the living spaces as they continue to get donations and visitors. That being said, if you want to help out, you can donate, volunteer, or sponsor one of them.
Have you ever heard gibbons sing?
Have you noticed them at any zoo you’ve been to?