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The trees are alive with the sound of siamangs!

Posted by Alissa Wolken, Communications

Welcome Sam, Woodland Park Zoo’s new male siamang! The 28-year-old male joins female Briony in the Trail of Vines exhibit. And how fitting that this new arrival comes during the Year of the Gibbon, a global effort to raise conservation awareness for these lesser known apes facing the threat of extinction.

Sam first arrived at the zoo in June and was introduced to Briony in the indoor exhibit, and now they are ready to explore their outdoor exhibit together.

Welcome Sam! Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

“Once we could see that Sam and Briony were getting along and he was familiar with the inside exhibit, we introduced Sam, with Briony, to the outside island exhibit,” says Collection Manager Pat Owen. “He is gradually spending more time out on exhibit; we anticipate it taking time for him to adjust to his new surroundings, because this is the first open air exhibit Sam has experienced.”

Briony showing Sam the ropes (er...vines!). Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo.

Sam was born at Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, S.C. and was moved to Los Angeles Zoo at 1 year of age. Sam was brought to Seattle through a recommendation by the Species Survival Plan (SSP) to pair up with Briony after our elderly male, Simon, passed away last year. Sam has not produced any offspring and we don’t expect him to produce any with Briony, but the two are a good companion match.

It didn't take too long for Sam to adjust to the treetop vistas. Here is the brave siamang dangling high in the Trail of Vines. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Although Sam is swinging from the treetops now, it took him a few days to adjust to his new outside space. “During the first few days, he would only move a short distance outside, look around to take it all in and then go back to the indoor exhibit that he was more familiar with. After about a week, he moved all the way out to the middle of the outside exhibit and climbed the very tree that Briony uses to reach the suspended vines. Now that he is more comfortable he’s been climbing up into trees, moving along the vines and browsing on the bamboo vegetation growing in the exhibit.” explains zookeeper Libby Lawson.

Briony and Sam, sitting in a tree... Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.
Briony and Sam. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo.

Sam also is hitting it off with his new companion Briony, too! “Each day seems to bring them closer together,” said zookeeper Laura McComesky. “We’ve seen a lot of grooming sessions and resting their heads together, vocalizing together and playing together. It is very exciting to watch their relationship grow.” Siamangs are very social animals, so we are thrilled to see Briony and Sam bonding.

Stop by the Trail of Vines exhibit to say hello to Sam. He’s a bit longer than Briony and has longer arms and legs. Once in a while you’ll see him suck on one of his big toes, a normal behavior for him since he was hand raised.

Sam's long arms and legs make him easy to spot. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Of all the gibbon species, siamangs form the closest social ties within the family unit. Siamangs are often referred to as “singing apes,” singing so loudly that it can be heard for up to 2 miles, as our neighbors can tell you—Briony and her former partner Simon could be heard from all across the neighborhood! It is believed that singing helps develop bonds between a mated pair.

Earlier this month at Asian Wildlife Conservation Day, visitors tried on the gibbon coat made by designer Ute Monjau-Porath to get a feel for the ape's special proportions built for its life in the trees.

While Briony and Sam have not yet perfected their duet, we are looking forward to hearing their song all across Phinney Ridge, Wallingford and Fremont soon!

Swinging high in the Trail of Vines. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo.


Maggie1944 said…
Singing together as a part of bonding is so cool! Makes me happy to know these two are getting along well, and bonding.