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Swedish zoo celebrates geriatric gibbon birth

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Swedish zoo celebrates geriatric gibbon birth
11:47 CEST+02:00
The recent birth of a healthy baby gibbon at a zoo in central Sweden has surprised keepers, given that its infamously fertile parents are well into their 40s, a rarity for the species.

When keepers at Parken Zoo in Eskilstuna made an early call to their resident pair of gibbons, Tarzan and Jane, on Monday morning they found a new family member in tow.

"We couldn't be sure if she was pregnant," zoo worker Louise Nilsberth told The Local. "It's not easy to tell but we had our suspicions since she had quite a round belly."

What makes the birth so remarkable is that both Tarzan and Jane are well into their 40s. "In human years that means they are in their 70s or 80s," Nilsberth added.

"Gibbons usually live until they are 25-30 years old. We don't know of any other cases in the world like this."

In 2009, Jane made the headlines after giving birth to her tenth baby whilst in her 40s. Fours years on and the new arrival has defied the odds.

Their keepers are in the dark as to why the couple are so fertile and instead leave the gibbon couple to conduct their monkey business in private.

"It would be quite stressful for the animals to do research as such," Nilsberth says. "But it is so rare that we do intend to look into it."

Whilst the sex of the newborn won't be known for a number of years, the zoo reports that both mother and child are doing well. "Jane's a great mum, with plenty of experience and she's taking good care of her new baby."

Tarzan and Jane are a popular and familiar attraction for visitors, having arrived at the zoo in 1994. The White Handed, or Lar, gibbons are native to south-east Asia.

Parken zoo is no stranger to unique deliveries. Last year the zoo welcomed Sweden's first birth of a white-cheeked gibbon, and in 2011 they witnessed the arrival of the country's first baby giant anteater.

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