San Antonio, 4 June 2008 — Twelve gibbons (primates who are not monkeys, but small apes, and whose bodies look very much like our own) have been in legal limbo during the case of Chimps, Inc. vs. Primarily Primates. We felt unable to settle the case until we could ensure the one gibbon who was left alone at our refuge got a group of friends back. It did not seem right to let Kimchi, the one lone gibbon, sing alone.

So we are very happy to let you know that Kimchi has just been rejoined by José Maria, Junior, and Scoshio, who departed South Carolina with veterinary supervision and were met in Texas by Primarily Primates’ full-time vet. Refuge director Stephen Tello accompanied the three home.

The four gibbons together are a delight to watch, Margo writes from Primarily Primates.

Scoshio and Junior watch Kimchi from an unusual perspective.

Scoshio and Junior watch Kimchi from an unusual perspective.

“Scoshio and Junior are a bit camera shy, but we’ve managed to get some good shots of them. They ate grapes out of my hand but weren’t too keen on banana. Junior knows his name and came running up to me when I called it!”

Scoshio and Junior are related, and they are together. Each one has an 80-foot outdoor living space, and they have indoor, heated bedrooms with perches. Their outdoor rooms connect by way of an overhead tunnel so they can hang out together and that is literally what they do!

Margo reports, “They played with all of the hanging structures in their enclosures and spent a few moments in the blue barrel pondering their next moves.”

Kimchi Responding Well to Reunion

Kimchi, who has been living at Primarily Primates and did not move out with the others last spring, was very curious about all of her friends’ return home. She seems to have a particular interest in José María, and gets up in the tunnel to get a little closer to him.

It’s just what we’ve hoped for, because Kimchi and José María will have an opened connection tunnel to link each of their 80-foot-long living spaces. We’ll see how it goes. We hope and expect that in about ten to fourteen days Kimchi and José María will be together. Right now, they can both sit in the tunnel at the top, and once they are able to be together they’ll still be able to opt for privacy when they want to, because they’ll each have their own living spaces.

Kimchi is a gentle individual who, in a year living alone, has required a lot of extra care and concern from our staff. She spent some time trying to get us to scratch her back and when we finally stopped, Kimchi directed her attention back to José María.

Hearing Spanish spoken, José came right up to Margo, who says,

Hearing Spanish spoken, José came right up to Margo, who says, “José María is just the most amazing little guy!”

“Jose Maria is just the most amazing little guy!” writes Margo. He’s a former pet who would receive care from a young woman from Mexico. José Maria originally came to Primarily Primates in 2002, as part of a group of eight, from the same private home where Junior once lived. As a pet, dark-haired, dashing José Maria had to endure the pain of canine teeth extractions.

“So I spoke a little Spanish to him. With a proper name like that, how could I resist? He understood! Of course that’s all I spoke to him thereafter; his response was just incredible!”

Margo continues: “He has such wonderful character! He loves the grass, as well; they all do but he spent more time on it than the other three. He ran more than he swung and sat on the ground more than on the hanging structures. He has quite an appetite as well; he ate all of the grapes we gave him and a banana and still wanted more. All of that in addition to finishing the late supper Maggie and Tracey gave him last night. Of the four, he is the most people-oriented.”

After a full meal, the sociable José María prefers relaxing on grassy spots to swinging.

After a full meal, the sociable José María prefers relaxing on grassy spots to swinging.

So, are they singing? Yes!

“Not in front of me and Nicki,” Margo explains, “But soon as we stepped away for a moment to see [chimpanzees] Deeter and Jewel, they all started singing non-stop for about 10 minutes. I had never heard gibbons sing and it was just beautiful! The Intern watching them through Elena’s vacation said they had been singing all morning. They must feel at home – the appetites are good, they’re singing and playing.”

The Gibbons’ Heritage

Kimchi was released from a zoo in January 2002, and joined Scoshio and Junior at Primarily Primates. Junior, like José Maria, was once kept as a pet, and is 22 years old this year. Junior’s father came from Vietnam; his mother was given to the pet-owner by the San Antonio Zoo.

We are so glad to share with our readers Margo’s observations and thoughts, and to show the importance of private refuges for animals who were formerly in commerce, whether for the purpose of being pets, entertainment, or used in research.

At the same time, gibbons are losing their natural habitat in south-east Asia because human agribusiness is encroaching on it. White-handed gibbons are, as of just last month, presumed “extinct” in China; and between Vietnam and China there are less than 50 Cao-Vit crested gibbons still living. Human hunting and agribusiness, and related deforestation, are taking a terrible toll.

Friends of Animals, by joining with Primarily Primates, will not only offer refuge; we will also advocate for respect, looking to the day primates and other animals no longer require rescue. But that’s assuming they have any habitat left on our shared Earth. A major part of our effort means asking our own species to opt out of animal agribusiness and the hunting of free-living animals.

Diary by Margo, Primarily Primates events staff.
Photos by Nicki, Primarily Primates care staff.
Lee Hall of Friends of Animals contributed to this report.
Page design: Rudy Koszkul, Friends of Animals.