Vegan breakfast with the gibbons

Gibbon baby
I recently visited the Gibbon Conservation Center in a wild corner of Santa Clarita's Bouquet Canyon. It's home to 33 gibbons, the small tree-swinging apes native to Southeast Asia, and the only facility in the world with all four genuses of gibbon. The center studies gibbon behavior and breeds several family lines, hoping to prevent extinction of the fifteen gibbon species. The primates live mostly in enclosures with room to swing and climb. They graze on lettuce, bananas and peppers (and the like) nine times a day. GibbonTo prevent outside disease from reaching the apes, I had to disinfect my shoes before entering the compound. High fences keep out the coyotes, lions and local teenagers.

Director Alan Mootnick has lived at the center for 28 years, but he told me it's time to look for a new home. Hotter summers and colder winters are taking a toll on the apes, he says. And the suburbs are encroaching. A breakfast for the public on Saturday will raise money for a move.

Stress from the sight and noise of construction, and microorganisms in the dust stirred up in earth moving, pose unacceptable and lethal dangers.

Such a move will be, by far, the greatest and most difficult undertaking GCC has ever faced.... Most importantly, the safety and health of the gibbons during the move must be carefully planned for and assured. This move will take at least a year and a half, but we must begin immediately. Our most urgent need is for at least 20 usable acres (or the funds to buy) in Los Angeles, Ventura, San Luis Obispo or Monterey County, or other mild climate more suitable for the gibbons.

Visitors on Saturday will be able to observe young gibbons clinging to their mothers, see families swinging in their enclosures, and perhaps hear the ape's distinctive jungle call. Visit the website for info and a wishlist of items needed to keep the gibbons happy and safe.

Photos: LA Observed

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