Apes from wildlife park released back into the wild
Animal park introduces Kent-reared gibbons to the wild for the first time
They were born at a wild animal park near Canterbury, but a family of gibbons is now starting a new life more than 7,000 miles away in their natural habitat in Indonesia.
Their relocation is part of Howletts’ aim to put endangered species back into the wild in specially protected areas.
The six gibbons – four males and a female with her two-yearold daughter – are now in a primate rehabilitation centre near Bandung in Java.
Their progress will be monitored by keepers for several months until they are ready to be released into the surrounding forest.
Gibbons face a major habitat threat of deforestation in Java due to logging, agriculture and development. Juveniles are also often caught to be sold illegally as pets.
Damian Aspinall, chairman of the Aspinall Foundation, which organised the move, said: “This is incredibly exciting for us.
“We are the only conservation charity doing this vital work to save endangered Javan gibbons from extinction.
“While our breeding sanctuaries, Howletts and Port Lympne Wild Animal Parks in the UK, are renowned for successfully raising these gibbons in captivity, we have been unable to introduce them to the wild until now.
“The results of our pioneering research mean we can now give these incredible animals a safe life in the wild, where they belong.”
He added: “Our work in Java is crucial to the survival of the Javan gibbon.
“This incredible species faces extinction in the next 20 years, unless proper conservation action is taken.
“It is our guiding philosophy that we must, wherever possible, return animals to protected areas of their natural habitat and work with local communities and governments to ensure we safeguard wilderness areas around the world for these reintroduction projects to continue.”
‘Our work in Java is crucial to the survival of the Javan gibbon’
Six gibbons born at Howletts are now in a primate rehabilitation centre in Java