Familiarity During Immaturity: Implications for the Captive Propagation of Gibbons

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Primate Behavior and Ecology

Publication Date



Immature captive gibbons are often housed together to facilitate healthy social development. Zoo personnel have wondered if the familiarity acquired during peer-rearing results in sexual aversion at maturity. We discuss whether housing gibbons together before sexual maturity causes them to later reject each other as mates and therefore inhibits their reproductive potential. We conducted a survey of gibbons housed at zoos, conservation centers, and with private individuals. Our data suggest that early rearing experiences with potential mates do not prevent mating between gibbons housed together while immature. Using studbook data, we compared infant mortality in inbred and outbred captive gibbons. We found no significant difference in mortality rates for the 2 samples, though adverse effects of inbreeding may become apparent at later ages and in future generations. Our results indicate that early cohabitation is a feasible housing strategy for breeding programs and for rehabilitation/rescue projects in habitat countries where the main concern is the reproductive viability of gibbons.


This article was originally published in International Journal of Primatology. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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International Journal of Primatology


© 2005 Springer Science + Business Media, Inc.