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Gibbon givings

Event: Center hosts breakfast to raise funds for primate conservation

Posted: October 17, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: October 17, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Mom, Ricky, a Northern White Cheek Gibbon, spends playtime with her baby, Pepper, during the fund raiser at the Gibbon Conservation Center on Sunday.

 

Talk at the breakfast table with the gibbons Sunday was, in a word, loud.

More than 150 people shared Breakfast With The Gibbons on Sunday in support of the Gibbon Conservation Center and its ongoing efforts to pull the long-armed, vociferous primates from the brink of extinction.

The center, about 200 yards down a dusty stretch of Esguerra Road from Bouquet Canyon Road in Saugus, is home to five species of gibbons, including the rare and endangered eastern Hoolock gibbon.

Visitors stepping into gibbons’ territory were asked at the entrance not to remove their shoes but, rather, to dip the soles of their shoes in a bucket of shallow liquid to help reduce the danger of infection.

Once inside the compound of house-sized wire enclosures, visitors were greeted with a cacophony of ear-cover-inducing yelps and deep, resonating guttural gibbon grunts.

“It’s really loud,” said 7-year-old Troy Roth, attending the breakfast with his mother, Sarah. “It sounds like a car — my dad’s car.”

Volunteer coordinator Chris Roderick explained to curious animal lovers what all the gibbon commotion was about.

It’s a territorial statement, she said, enthusiastically repeated five or six times a day.

The gibbons were not complaining about the primates seen on the outside of their enclosures — those walking around with plates of vegan breakfast food, some with cameras — but were instead staking their claims on the territory they occupied, Roderick said.

“This is their territorial call they give to other gibbons, saying ‘Our family is cool. Your family sucks. Move out.’

“... Not to us, but to the other (gibbon) families,” Roderick hastily added, straining over the noisy yelps.

Gibbons are the loudest land mammals on Earth and can be heard two miles away, she said.

Money raised at Sunday’s event helps maintain the center and, in so doing, helps ensure the survival, conservation and propagation of all gibbon species in the wild and in captivity — one of the center’s key goals.

Center founder and director Alan Mootnick, said he was very pleased with Sunday’s turnout.

“This goes to supporting the facility,” he said, describing the target fundraising goal as “always more than we’ve ever had.”

Visitors showing their support for the gibbons cause were given a shopping list of what items their money supplies.

A contribution of $10 supplies vitamins for one gibbon for three months.

With $6,0000, the center can build a naturalistic enclosure for the gibbons.

On Sunday, event organizers held a silent auction and invited the performing clown Jumbo Shrimp Circus to come and entertain, all in the name of promoting the plight of gibbons locally and worldwide.

“This is a major fundraiser for the center,” Roderick said. “It costs us quite a bit of money to feed them eight to 10 times a day.”

Since it began in 1976, the center has successfully reproduced seven gibbon species and displayed a couple of infants Sunday.

The center boasts the world’s second-largest gibbon population outside their countries of origin, which include Indonesia and northeastern parts of India.

At the moment, the center is pooling funds to buy property and relocate to a more gibbon-friendly climate.

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