Japanese zoo solves mystery of isolated gibbon's pregnancy

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Feb. 3 (UPI) -- A Japanese zoo said it has solved the mystery of a gibbon became pregnant while living in isolation -- and a tiny hole in a board is to blame.

Zookeepers at Kujukushima Zoo and Botanical Garden Mori Kirara in Sasebo City, Nagasaki Prefecture, said they were surprised when a lar gibbon named Momo gave birth in February 2021, as the ape had been living in her own enclosure without any males present.


Officials said Momo was protective of her offspring, so it was nearly two years before they were able to collect enough stool and excrement samples from the mother and baby to perform DNA tests.

The father of the male baby was found to be Itou, a 34-year-old agile gibbon. Zookeepers said the two apes were never on display together, but they discovered that the partition between Momo's exhibit and the back yard where Itou was kept while off-display had a perforated board with holes about 9 millimeters (.35 inches) in diameter.


Officials said they now believe the apes managed to mate through one of the holes.

The board has now been replaced by a solid steel plate. Officials said they are now planning to attempt to introduce Itou and Momo officially so they and their child can live as a family.

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