Florida safari park welcomes first baby ape in nearly 28 years

The Lion Country Safari drive-through safari park in the South Florida city of Loxahatchee welcomed a new and rare endangered ape, park officials announced on Thursday. The new white-handed gibbon was born on Feb. 17. 

It is the first ape to be born at the park in nearly 28 years. Park officials said the ape will cling to its mother until it matures and begins to explore on its own. The baby’s parents, 23-year-old Tamatha and 36-year-old Larry, are visible to visitors on their habitat islands in the last section of the park’s tour, officials said.

White-handed gibbons are a lesser ape species native to the rain forests of Asia. 

They are generally monogamous and produce one offspring after a gestation period of approximately seven months. The average life expectancy for a white-handed gibbon is 25-30 years in the wild and approximately 44 years under human care, park officials said. 

The apes are on the endangered species list, and populations are decreasing in the wild due to habitat loss and illegal wildlife trafficking, officials said. 

This story was originally published by Aja Dorsainvil at Scripps News West Palm Beach