White-handed Gibbon
Hylobates lar

CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Primates
FAMILY: Hylobatidae

11-15 lbs., 30 inches tall

Malay Peninsula and Sumatra - Southern Asia


Wild - Fruits, leaves, buds, insects
Zoo - Fruits, vegetables, biscuits

Color ranges from black to pale brown or buff. Always has rim of white that completely encirlces the face and always has upper white surfaces on its hands and feet that look like gloves and socks. Faces and palms are black. Finger nails are flattened like ours, not round like claws of other animals.


  • Arboreal; diurnal; live in single family groups of 2-6 consisting of male, female, and up to four offspring. Sometimes are solitary. Each group occupies a large territory and will defend this territory against other gibbons. Males and females hold equal dominace status.
  • Whooping calls carry long distances and warn group of approaching strangers and warn the strangers of the group
  • The genus Hylobates means "dweller in trees." Sleep high in tree (sitting straight up and huddled together) near the center of their territory.
  • Locomotion -- travel through the trees by swinging and leaping called brachiation. Can leap 30 feet or more in one good swing.
  • Use hand like hooks and often carry food with feet as they swing. On ground they walk upright, but any sign of danger sends them back to the trees.

Babies have very little hair and are quite helpless clinging to the mother with strong little hands. From the first day, the infant clings to the mother. Only food during this time is the mother's milk. Usually light colored to begin. Usually 1-2 born; most births in early part of winter. Gestation is 7 to 7 1/2 months. A juvenile (2-4 1/2 years) is completely independent of the female and sleeps with the male.

CITES App. I; Endangered - habitat destruction.

Due to economic development the population of the white-handed gibbon is rapidly declining. Estimated 250,000 gibbons remain in Southern Burma, Malaya, Thailand, Cambodia, and Sumatra.