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Zoo Diary: Nobby The Gibbon

on 6th August, 2021
Clever Gibbon

Did you know that staff that live on site at the Lake District Wildlife Park are awake very early? You may be thinking that they are disturbed from a deep slumber by the beautiful notes of birdsong. However, it is usually a dawn chorus of a different kind! As they roll over in bed, some may be dreaming that they are in the tropical rainforests of Sumatra, Malaysia, or Thailand. However, as they become more alert, they realise that they are in Cumbria and Nobby the Lar Gibbon is up bright and early as usual!

Nobby is a real character and is one of the most popular animals at the Lake District Wildlife Park. He often starts the day by climbing up the huge ancient oak tree in his enclosure and then serenades the whole park. His song and calls are loud, and on a still day can be heard echoing around the valley. In the wild, Gibbons sing as a form of communication. It is a fabulous sound, and he is often still singing when the park opens, and visitors arrive. What a great way to start the day!

After exercising his lungs, Nobby will then climb down the tree and commence his morning acrobatic routine. This consists of hanging and swinging hand over hand on his rope climbing frame. In the wild this is called brachiating and is how Gibbons efficiently move between the treetops. This is followed by his morning stretching routine. Gibbons have long limbs and when they walk, they often pause and bend down on one knee. To humans this looks like they are performing lunges. However, it is just a natural movement and helps them to get a closer look at the ground for anything moving in the grass.

After a stretch and lunge, he will find either his sibling Sally or his parents Brian and Sooty for a bit of mutual grooming. With their dextrous hands and opposable thumbs, they meticulously comb through the fur of their partner. They do this primarily for hygiene reasons. After a tidy up it is time for a nutritious breakfast of mixed vegetables, usually followed by sunbathing and relaxing.

Nobby does not stay still for too long and really seems to enjoy exploring and investigating enrichment from his Keepers. He will spend hours looking at himself in a mirror or at his reflection in some water. He will dance and run around before returning for another look at himself. If he has a box with treats inside, he will quickly work out how to open it. If given a magazine he will study the pictures and writing. He is a real character and if his Keeper is cleaning, he will often jump in the wheelbarrow or put a hand on the handle and pretend to be helping.

The family of four Lar Gibbons at the Lake District Wildlife Park all have individual personalities. They are big favourites with visitors, who will spend time taking photographs, watching, and laughing at their antics. So, if you need cheering up or just want to smile, pop down to the park and spend some time with our Gibbons!

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