Their songs were heard before their bodies were deciphered amongst the shrubbery above. This couple’s specific duet repeated itself over and over communicating important messages. The leaves shake as the acrobatic mammals traverse above the visitors to Monkeyland. Fruit falls and decorates the mud with an abundance of bright colors. Equally curious, the glimpses turn to lengthily images as slowly the Gibbons come into direct proximity. Using brachiating, their form of locomotion, Siam and Atlas move from branch to branch happily speaking in tongues. This form of travel allows them to swing up to 35 miles an hour across gaps as large as 50 feet wide with a single leap.
Standing at a mere 3 feet tall when upright and about 12-20 pounds in weight, Gibbons are very slender but their thick hair on their bodies gives them a heavier appearance than their actual size. The shade of their coats are blonde, light brown, beach black, and silver. These mammals possess a few key differentiating traits: they are smaller than other apes, they do not make nests and they exhibit low sexual dimorphism. Moreover apes, including humans differ from other primates as they lack tails. This characteristic serves as the major factor that defines their ape classification as all monkeys have tails.
The tree dwellers, are one of the main attractions to Monkeyland, as these primates are tremendously threatened by anthropogenic activity. Like many species, these apes are susceptible to the dangers of poaching, deforestation and illegal trade. At risk of eminent extinction, there are 79,000 estimated lar gibbons alive today.
From Paris to Bloemfontein, the free state, this couple has found a way to overcome their language barrier. She is Afrikaans and he is French. Yet their bond seems as close as if they knew each other all their life. As Gibbons are monogamous, the couple will stay partners through life. A relationship that consists of a forever love through space and time. This developed nuclear family goes beyond physical intimacy as it is demonstrated in the nurturing of their young. Typically, young gibbons stay with their mother for about 6 years. After this the young leave or are forced out by the parent of the same gender to start a nucleus of their own. Unfortunately, the male gibbon at this wildlife reserve has been castrated so there is no promise of infant Gibbons on the horizon.
The couple in this reserve live a very quiet life, descending for food as necessary but remaining isolated to the degree that brings them comfort. They often spend their days basking in the South African sun, gently attending to the maintenance of each other and leaping away from the unwanted company that can disturb their solace.