Category: Wildlife

Gibbons are a family of apes (Hylobatidae). There are 18 species of these primates in total. They live in the rainforests of Asia, including China, Indonesia, India and Bangladesh.



Scientific & Common Names

Kingdom - Animalia

Phylum - Chordata

Class - Mammalia

Order - Primates

Family - Hylobatidae

Genera - Hylobates, Hoolock, Nomascus, Symphalangus

Common Names - Gibbon, Lesser Ape


Gibbons differ from the so-called "great apes" (chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas) in that they are smaller and more slender. They resemble monkeys more than most apes, though they lack tails. Gibbons come in many colors, including just about any shade of brown from dark to light, as well as black and different shades of gray.


Gibbons form mating pairs that usually stay together for life. They are quite vocal, and both males and females will use songs to attract mates.


The preferred method of travel for the gibbon is to swing from tree branch to tree branch. Their bodies and bone structures, particularly in the arms and wrists, are specifically designed for this. They feature a unique ball and socket joint in the wrist that allows them to propel themselves forward without expending too much energy or putting too much stress on the animal's shoulders. They are social creatures, and very territorial regarding intruders. Some species feature throat sac that can be filled with air to amplify their territorial calls.

Gibbons eat mostly fruits and vegetation, but will occasionally consume insects or bird eggs.


It's believed that gibbons branched off from other apes around 17 million years ago. The difference between gibbon species and genera are not fully understood, and many species may hybridize in the wild, making positive identification difficult. Song is usually the best way to identify a gibbon.

Gibbons were once far more widespread in China, and feature in numerous pieces of Ancient Chinese art. They are currently restricted to southern China due to the destruction of much of their original habitat. This is a danger facing all gibbons.

Present Status

Most gibbons are threatened, and listed as either "vulnerable" or "endangered". The chief threat to their livelihood is habitat destruction, as rainforests are shrinking more and more every day.