Lesser apes refers only to size. Where great apes range from 85-lb. bonobos to 450-lb. gorillas, lesser apes range from 10 to 30 pounds.
All ape species are long lived with average lifespans ranging from 30 to 50 years. Gibbons are the only apes that are monogamous. Pairs will sing daily duets with males and females synching their vocalizations to help reinforce their bond and claim territory as theirs. The throat sac of the siamang (a type of gibbon) will inflate to the size of its head during these calls. If you’ve ever been to the Zoo in the morning, you know what we’re talking about.
They live in a family group consisting of an adult male and female and their offspring who live with their parents until they are 7-8 years old. At this point they leave to form their own family groups.
Just like great apes, gibbons are also very intelligent and all of the primates here at Nashville Zoo participate in a voluntary operant conditioning training programs where they learn many behaviors that help keepers with the daily care of the gibbons.
Gibbons have a unique form of locomotion called brachiation. With their arms above their head they will use their fingers like hooks and swing from branch to branch. This allows them to move extremely fast and graceful through the treetops.
There are 17 gibbon species and they are some of the most critically endangered species in the world.
Want to learn more about apes? Meet our primate keeper staff each Saturday and Sunday in April from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the siamang exhibit. Learn about how to tell apes apart from monkeys, why lesser apes are just as cool as great apes, hear different gibbon calls and learn more about conservation needs and projects that Nashville Zoo is involved in around the world.