Zoo Buddy: White-Handed Gibbons!

Meet Betty White! She's about a year-old white-handed gibbon at the Louisiana Purchase Gardens & Zoo.
Published: Dec. 13, 2022 at 1:24 PM CST
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Meet Betty White! This 1-year-old white-handed gibbon is full of life.

She was born at the Louisiana Purchase Gardens & Zoo on Dec. 18, 2021.

“So we didn’t want to pull Betty, but it got cold like it is right now and complications happened, so we had to grab her and we ended up hand raising her,” says Ashley Diserio, one of the zookeepers who takes care of Betty. “We’re slowly introducing her back to mom and dad so she’s on one side of the exhibit and they’re on the other side. We’re probably going to do that for a couple more weeks and then we’ll eventually open the door between them and we’ll monitor how they react physically together. Right now they’re doing really well behaviorally. They like to lick each other through the fence. Betty likes to lick their toes.”

Diserio says white-handed gibbons can be found in places like Southern Asia, Malaysia and Thailand.

“It would be very hard to find them because they are so rare, but you can definitely hear them,” says Diserio. “They vocalize all the time to mark out their territory to let others know like, ‘Hey this is my house, this is my tree, this is where my family is, respect it.’”

Betty’s parents are actually the parents of all of the zoo’s white-handed gibbons.

“They are close to 47 years old, which is pretty old for a gibbon. They can live close to 50-60 years and still reproduce,” explains Lisa Taylor, General Curator at the zoo. “But, this year we have decided to put an implant in the mom for birth control since she had some problems with Betty and we figure Betty will be her last baby girl.”

You can find the white-handed gibbons on their own island when you take a boat ride or in their own exhibit near the baboons.

The zoo is also home to some hoolock gibbons, which you can hear pretty much everywhere in the zoo. They’re located near the petting zoo.

And her birthday party is coming up! Since Jungle Bells is on Dec. 17, they’ll be celebrating Betty’s birthday then too.

That day from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., admission to the zoo is free thanks to Jeff Guerriero. There will be a bike giveaway, visit from Santa, food trucks, vendors, animal encounters, and more. Boat and train rides are $3.

You can find Betty’s birthday wishlist here.