RACINE — The Racine Zoo is excited to announce that on Saturday, May 28, Yule, the white-handed gibbon and the oldest living gibbon in North America, turns 50 years old.
White-handed gibbons typically live approximately 25 years in the wild and about 40 to 50 years under human care, according to a press release.
To celebrate this historical event, the Zoo is hosting an informal birthday party on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. where guests can enjoy birthday cake flavored popcorn and learn more about Yule and the endangered white-handed gibbon. The Zoo is also offering limited-edition Yule Birthday T-shirts for $22 each available in five colors. All proceeds benefit the Racine Zoo. Commemorative T-shirts will be available for a short time and can be ordered online.
“We are very proud to see Yule reach this important milestone,” said Beth Heidorn, Executive Director of the Racine Zoo. “His long, healthy life is a testament to the wonderful care he receives from our compassionate and talented animal care staff.”
Yule was born in Southeast Asia in 1966 and came to the Zoo in 1986 making him the longest resident of the Zoo. His 37-year-old daughter Robin, shares the exhibit with him and the two share a very strong bond since her mother passed away when Robin was only three years old.
“Yule and Robin have a very special and lovely relationship,” said Crystal Champeau-Williams, Primary Primate Specialist at the Racine Zoo. “It’s always fun to see them wrestling, playing tag, grooming, and of course, singing their impressive duets that can be heard for miles.”
Found in the tropical rainforests of Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand, the white-handed gibbon is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List as wild populations decline from vanishing habitats and poaching.
Best known for their “whooping” call, gibbons are also admired for their remarkably fast, seemingly effortless, suspensory motion through the trees. Even without a tail, the gibbon’s sense of balance is acute, and can even be found walking on its hind legs along branches high above the ground, characteristically raising its arms above its head for balance.