Tong just received the most adorable valentine from Katherine, one of Tong’s most recent adopters.
It opens to reveal a lovely message.
And this week it so happens that we have very exciting (and seasonally appropriate) news about Tong: she’s no longer single! She and Gibby were placed together this past Tuesday, and they are clearly enjoying each other’s company.
Tong is the one of the original four young gibbons who came to the U.S. with IPPL founder Shirley McGreal when she moved to South Carolina from Thailand. When the four youngsters grew too old to be playmates, Sapphire was paired with the male Durga, and Tong was paired with Brownie.
All three of Tong’s former companions have since passed away from various ailments (they were all estimated to be nearly 40 years old—a good age for a gibbon), but Tong has continued to be in excellent health.
After Brownie died, we tried having several different males live close to Tong, to see who might be the best fit with her personality. As our senior caregiver Donetta says, “It can sometimes take a while to figure out whether gibbons like each other.” But Tong is very people-oriented—part of her legacy as a former pet—and she mostly seemed happy receiving regular visits from her human friends and caregivers.
Gibby is a former lab gibbon who came to IPPL in 2007. He was unpaired at the time, but we know that he had had mates previously. After some changes to the gibbon living arrangements here, Gibby was moved next to Tong in March of last year.
We were hopeful, but initial signs were not super-encouraging. I remember one day approaching Tong’s run near to Gibby’s enclosure and hearing her chatter excitedly—to her lunch bucket!
However, there was never any sign of aggression between them, so last Tuesday we went ahead and made the experiment: we opened the doors between their two outdoor areas. And they immediately—ran past each other to check out the other’s enclosure: a very good sign in a territorial species!
But once that essential introductory phase was over, they soon started hugging, grooming, play-chasing, and wrestling each other. And so it’s been ever since.
“Already they seem like they’ve been together for years,” says our animal caregiver Brandon.
What a lovely Valentine’s Day gift—for each other.
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