A baby silvery gibbon has been born at the Curraghs Wildlife Park – a year after an adult pair were imported as part of a prestigious breeding programme.
Nakula and Slamet came to the Island from Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent last summer with the hope they would produce young.
The wild silvery gibbon lives exclusively on the Indonesian island of Java.
The wild population of 2000 adults of breeding age is threatened by habitat destruction and the illegal pet trade.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists the silvery gibbon as ‘endangered’.
There are only around 40 silvery gibbons in nine European zoos – more than half of them at Howletts.
The Aspinall Foundation, which operates Howletts and the Javan Primates Conservation Project, chose the Curraghs Wildlife Park to take part in the European Endangered Species’ breeding programme after a rigorous assessment of its suitability to house and breed the gibbons.
At the time, Kathleen Graham, park general manager, said: ‘As Nakula came all the way from Australasia and is yet to sire a youngster, he represents a new bloodline in the European stud book. It would be lovely if the first youngster from that line is born here.’
The new arrival appeared on 19th August and park staff have named him Ffinlo, which means fair hero in Manx Gaelic.
Slamet will suckle her baby for around 18 months and the three will remain a close family group until Ffinlo is eight to 10 years old. There’s a hope further siblings will be born.
The silvery gibbons have enchanted park visitors – and can be heard even when not seen. They ‘sing’ most days to assert their territory, with the female being the most tuneful, the male’s call more of a scream.
David Cretney MLC, Member of the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture responsible for the Curraghs Wildlife Park, said: ‘It was an honour to be chosen to give a home to Nakula and Slamet and to take part in the breeding programme and we are delighted to welcome a baby so quickly. We are sure Ffinlo will be a hit with our visitors.’
Kathleen said: ‘Not only did the pair settle in quickly – to have a baby after just a year is the icing on the cake.
‘Nakula and Slamet are turning into great parents. They are so gentle and nurturing, it just melts the heart to watch them.
‘Starting their family on the Isle of Man, they can be safe. However, they are ambassadors for the threatened wild gibbon population and we are pleased to be helping that.’
Matt Ford, the silvery gibbon Europe studbook coordinator, said: ‘This birth is a vital step for the continued survival of this endangered species in captivity.
‘Ffinlo will have a huge part to play in helping protect his species by educating park visitors on the plight of his wild relations.
‘He might play an even bigger part by being chosen, when adult, to be released back into the wild in Java via the Aspinall Foundation-run project. Reintroduction will be vital for these animals’ survival.’
For information about and to book tickets for the Curraghs Wildlife Park, visit www.curraghswildlifepark.im/
The park is open daily from 10am to 5pm until the end of October.