Caring for Our Gibbons
In 1977, four years after returning from Thailand, Dr. Shirley McGreal established IPPL’s gibbon sanctuary. The original property consisted of about 10 acres in the South Carolina Lowcountry.
Over the years, IPPL has increased its size by purchasing adjacent properties. As a result, IPPL now owns about 37 acres. Home to dozens of gibbons, as of 2017, we will have 10 gibbon houses, many spacious outdoor enclosures, and miles of aerial walkways all connected so that we can move gibbons easily and without stress or anesthesia when needed.
Because gibbons are monogamous and territorial, we attempt to introduce single gibbons to form new pairs – but the outcome is their choice! Each gibbon couple has their own quarters and connecting outdoor enclosure, separate, but in view of other gibbons. The gibbon houses are hurricane-proofed, temperature-controlled and have TV’s to keep the gibbons entertained when the temperature falls below 50 degrees or there are other weather concerns.
Veterinary care is an important part of the care provided for our gibbons. Physical and dental exams are routine and specialists are available should they be needed. We do not breed our gibbons, so all our males have had vasectomies – although we’ve had some surprises in the past because of failed vasectomies!
It is important that we provide enrichment for our busy and intelligent gibbons. It can come in many forms including swinging ropes, hammocks, and climbing structures, which are well suited for these long-armed arboreal apes. They also enjoy PVC tubes filled with special treats, mirrors, bubbles, and for some, a stuffed animal!
Our dedicated animal care staff feed the gibbons a varied diet consisting mainly of greens and fresh vegetables. Breakfast can also include canned beans, scrambled eggs, or monkey crunch biscuits for added protein and mixed fruit is served for lunch. In the evening when they are brought indoors, they receive a banana as a “bedtime” snack. They are also fed figs and muscadine grapes that grow on our property. On special occasions, they’ll get a healthy treat, like frozen fruit smoothies, dried fruit, assorted nuts from Nuts.com or a Thanksgiving feast!
It isn’t just our Animal Care Staff who provides enrichment and fun things to do for our gibbons. Take a look at Blue and Tong playing!