The dream of a companion for Zito, the 23-year-old male Lar gibbon at Great Bend’s zoo, has come true.
Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo Supervisor and Curator Sara Hamlin said Rerun, a female Lar gibbon, was moved here from Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon, at the end of October. Rerun will be 28 years old on Jan. 27.
Hamlin waited to announce Rerun’s arrival until the zoo staff was able to introduce her to Zito, which they did last week.
“They are getting along wonderfully,” Hamlin said.
The gibbons are in quarantine and won’t be available for public viewing until February.
“Both gibbons have been housed alone for the last several years,” Hamlin said. Rerun’s previous mate passed away and Zito was separated from his younger brother after they stopped getting along. The match of Zito and Rerun was recommended by the Gibbon Species Survival Plan (SSP).
“They are not a breeding pair, just a companion pair,” Hamlin said.
Zito, the zoo’s first Lar Gibbon, moved here on Nov. 10, 2016, from the Lincoln (Neb.) Children’s Zoo, also through the Gibbon SSP. The SSP program was developed in 1981 to help ensure the survival of selected species in zoos and aquariums, most of which are threatened or endangered in the wild.
“We are very excited to house such a special species here at our zoo for the first time,” Hamlin said in 2016. “Lar gibbons are native to Southeast Asia and are considered endangered due to deforestation.
“Our hope is that the SSP will place us with a female in the coming year to be a companion for him, though it will be up to the SSP to decide if it will a breeding recommendation or not.”
In other zoo news, there will be a 1st birthday party for the two lion girls on Feb. 17. Cupcakes provided by the Great Bend Zoo Society and cookies provided by Stoneridge Country Club will be available for guests at 1 p.m.
The zoo’s quarantine area will be open to the public from 1-2 p.m. so that people can visit the newly paired gibbons. Keepers will be available to answer questions and there will be a “Keeper Chat” at the lion cub yard (formerly tiger yard) at 2:30 p.m.