White-cheeked gibbon

Latin Name
Nomascus leucogenys




Although gibbons are apes, they are known as lesser, or small, apes. They can reach 18–25 inches in height and weigh up to 12.5 pounds. They have extremely long arms and legs.

Gibbons are unique in that infants are born with blonde fur like their mother, but by age 2 their color turns to black.  When they reach adulthood, males remain black and females change back to blonde.



Laos, Vietnam, Hainan, southeastern China and eastern Cambodia.


This species of gibbons is considered to be critically endangered, as wild populations have declined by at least 80 percent over the past 45 years due primarily to habitat loss and hunting.

Lincoln Park Zoo participates in the Gibbon Species Survival Plan®, a shared conservation effort by zoos throughout the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The zoo also financially contributes to gibbon field-conservation efforts to support the longevity of this species.


High canopy of tropical rain forests.


White-cheeked gibbons are frugivorous and spend most of their time in the forest canopy searching for fruit. Leaves are another important food item for gibbons as well as flowers, leaf buds and shoots, and insects.

Life History

A single offspring is born about every two–three years after a seven-month gestation period. Infants are weaned after age 2, and sexual maturity is reached by about 6 years of age. Young males will typically leave their family group after eight years.

Special Adaptations

Gibbons are adapted for an arboreal lifestyle and use a highly specialized mode of locomotion called brachiation. Instead of grasping, their hands form a loose hook around branches, enabling them to swing through the trees using a hand-over-hand motion.

Gibbons live in small family groups made up of a mated pair and their young offspring.  Every morning, the male and female will perform a ritualized vocal duet to advertise their territory to other gibbon groups. 

Bonus Content

Caruso’s 25th Birthday Party
When white-cheeked gibbons get together for a party, nobody sits still. Enjoy a video and slideshow of the high-spirited birthday party caregivers threw for gibbon family patriarch Caruso to celebrate his 25th birthday.

Caruso Turns 25
When white-cheeked gibbons get together for a party, nobody sits still. Enjoy a video of the party caregivers threw for Caruso to celebrate his 25th birthday.

Daxin's First Birthday
On August 16, baby white-cheeked gibbon Daxin celebrated his first birthday at the zoo. Here we take a look back at the great enrichment he received.

White-cheeked gibbon baby Daxin prepares to nurse at the Helen Brach Primate House.

Juggling Four Babies
Looking back at a busy year, Curator of Primates Maureen Leahy shares how you care—and prepare—for four zoo babies: gorillas Patty and Nayembi, Francois’ langur Pierre and white-cheeked gibbon Daxin.

New Arrivals 2014
It has been a busy year at Lincoln Park Zoo so far! Here we highlight the newest species living and growing under the zoo's care.

White-cheeked gibbon Caruso was among the top dads featured on Father's Day

Father's Day Slideshow
As people celebrated dads of all shapes and sizes, we took a look at some of the top fathers at Lincoln Park Zoo.

Fond Memories
Take a look back to highlight some of the many animals who have created great memories for zoo visitors and staff alike. 


Lincoln Park Zoo Exhibit