NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — When you first enter the Nashville Zoo, one of the first sounds you will hear is the call of the Gibbons.
“It’s kind of like a territorial call,” said Tatum Basham, Nashville Zoo Primate Keeper. “So, they’re like, ‘hey, this is my territory. I want to stay here. I’m letting you guys know that you’re not allowed to be over here.’ That’s kind of what they’re saying to us.”
Nashville Zoo is home to three white-cheeked gibbons. Makaio is the son of Singwah (mom) and Paddy (dad).
“Paddy, who is the father plays with Makaio a lot. He’ll like, move around, touch his toes, and his arms. Kind of play with him. Singwah and Paddy kind of groom each other. They’re really strongly bonded to each other. You can definitely tell their personalities. And you can see Makaio is pretty crazy. He’s got a lot of pent up energy. So, he likes to get it out,” said Basham.
Basham added, gibbons are not monkeys.
“A lot of people do think these guys are monkeys. But, they’re actually lesser apes.” Basham continued, “They’re part of the ape family. So, there are lesser apes and there are great apes. The lesser apes contain the siamangs and the gibbons. But, the great apes are the gorillas, the orangutans, chimpanzees, and benobos.”
Basham explained the big difference between these guys and monkeys is that they don’t have tails.
The gibbons are no doubt some of the most entertaining animals at the zoo. “Gibbons use a locomotion called brachiation. The same with siamangs, where they have really long arms to swing from branch to branch. And that’s how they get around. You will also see them walk on their feet. They’ll put their hands way up high and they use that to balance.”
“I think what guests enjoy most is how natural it looks. They can swing from branch to branch. You can see how they kind of react in the wild, and how they move in the wild,” said Basham.
Nashville Zoo is always trying to keep the species going.
“We have a new female red-ruffed lemur, and she’ll be introduced to the male red-ruffed lemur soon, which is very exciting. We might have future babies!” said Basham.
News 2 has partnered with Nashville Zoo to bring you weekly segments of Zoopalooza. You can watch them on News 2 on Good Morning Nashville on Saturday and right here on WKRN.com.