- White-handed gibbon Momo mysteriously became pregnant at a Japanese zoo in 2021.
- Momo was so protective of her baby that it took years to identify the father, a zoo official told Vice.
- The zoo moves Momo with her father, Ito, because this species usually mates for life.
Japanese zookeepers were baffled when a female white-handed gibbon named Momo became pregnant in 2021. Two years later, the zoo said it was the result of a small loophole, so to speak, rather than a perfect conception.
“It took me two years to figure it out because I couldn’t get close enough to collect a sample. She was very protective of her child. Vise.
Yamano explained to Vice that the zoo believes the two gibbons were able to mate because the area adjacent to Momo’s cage was occupied by both Momo and Ito on a rotating basis. The zoo discovered a small hole 9 millimeters (or less than 1 centimeter) in diameter in the partition that separates the display area from Momo’s cage.
There is no footage confirming how they performed the act, but the zoo believes the gibbons must have mated Ito occupied the exhibition area next to Momo, who was on the opposite side of the hall.
Yamano told Vice that such mating behavior was unprecedented and that gibbons usually mate more purposefully after being exposed to each other. I planned to do so and replaced the wall with a hole.
The zoo did not respond to an insider’s request for comment.
white-handed gibbon It is a small endangered primate native to Southeast Asia. They are mostly monogamous, and adult couples during mating season usually form bonds that last a lifetime. Also, a gibbon usually lives in her groups of 2-6, consisting of mating pairs and their offspring.
Primates mate year-round and are usually the primary caregiver of the mother, although sometimes the father assists. Gibbons tend to stay with their parents until they reach sexual maturity, or for about seven years.