Nagasaki: Gibbon’s Father Identified 2 Years after Mysterious Birth

Courtesy of Mori Kirara
Momo, a white-handed gibbon, left, and her son at the Kujukushima Zoo & Botanical Garden Mori Kirara in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture

SASEBO, Nagasaki — Two years after a white-handed gibbon gave birth unexpectedly to an offspring while in virtual isolation at a zoo in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, the father of the young monkey has been identified.

Courtesy of Mori Kirara
Itou, an agile gibbon that has been found to be the father of an unexpected baby

Momo, now 12, had been kept in a private enclosure at Kujukushima Zoo & Botanical Garden Mori Kirara to prevent contact with males of other species because white-handed gibbon are threatened with extinction and are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list. Momo, however, unexpectedly gave birth to a male baby in February 2021.

In December last year, DNA analysis revealed that the young monkey’s father was Itou, a 34-year-old male agile gibbon. Officials said at the time of conception, Momo and Itou were in areas that were adjacent but separated by a metal plate. It is believed that they came into contact with each other through a hole in the plate that measures about 9 millimeters in diameter.

Momo has proved to be a devoted mother. The young gibbon has developed quickly, now weighing about 2 kilograms.