Red Ape Reserve was in "full swing" yesterday as Sumatran orangutan Kumar met the white-cheeked gibbons Phyllis and Duffy for the first time. While Inji – a long-time companion of the gibbons – looked on, Kumar played a game of chase with the smaller, speedier primates. At one point, male gibbon Duffy showed off his treetop acrobatics by swinging from branch to branch one-handed while holding a carrot in the other.
Both primate species are native to the forests Southeast Asia, where they spend most of their time in the canopy. Gibbons move through trees by swinging arm over arm, or brachiating. Orangutans tend to climb using all four limbs. This is called quadrumanous locomotion. Gibbons are the fastest and most agile of all tree-dwelling, non-flying mammals, capable of swinging for distances of up to 50 feet.
Orangutans and gibbons are both threatened by the destruction of their tropical habitats for plantations that produce palm oil, a common ingredient found in a variety of products ranging from ice cream to shampoo. While palm oil is here to stay, consumers have the power to change the way companies do business by encouraging them to make progress toward a goal of zero-deforestation palm oil.