New siamang born in Virginia Zoo

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A second baby was born Nov. 21 to an endangered siamang couple at the Virginia Zoo and will be in the Trail of the Tiger exhibit.

The newborn joins his 2-year-old sister Lola and parents Hitam and Bali. His mother Hitam came to Virginia from the San Diego Zoo, and his father Bali was sent from Howlett’s Wild Animal Park in England.

“This is a very important birth, as siamang are critically endangered and facing increasing pressure in the wild. We are especially excited for big sister Lola because she will have the perfect playmate in this little brother,” said Greg Bockheim, the Zoo’s executive director.

Big sister Lola gives her new baby brother a lick while he rests in mother Hitam’s arms. (Virginia Zoo/ Greg Bockheim)
Big sister Lola gives her new baby brother a lick while he rests in mother Hitam’s arms. (Virginia Zoo/ Greg Bockheim)

Siamang are native to the rain forests of Southeast Asia and are the largest species of gibbon. They have black shaggy hair and a naked face. They also have large gray or pink throat pouch that can be inflated, which can make loud resonating calls heard more than two miles away.

Siamangare omnivorous, eating mostly leaves but also fruit, insects, nuts, small animals, birds and bird’s eggs. Males and females are similar in size, growing to 30 to 35 inches and weighing around 17 to 28 pounds.

Siamang bear one offspring after a seven- to eight-month gestation period. For the first few months, the baby clings to the mother’s abdomen. Soon after the age of 2, babies begin weaning and become more independent but still are major part of the family.

At about seven years old, they reach sexual maturity and leave their family group.

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