Despite Warm Temps, Utica Welcomes Notable ‘Snowflake’ Delivery
While you won't find any snow in your backyard because of the very mild winter we've had this season, the city of Utica is welcoming a significant Snowflake delivery.
Snowflake, the Utica Zoo's female white-handed gibbon has given birth to a healthy baby, officials announced this week. Gibbons are an ape species, and Snowflake is a resident at the Utica Zoo, along with her male companion, named Yoda.
The birth is noteworthy, officials say, because while the Utica Zoo was authorized to allows the two gibbons to breed, the thought was that because of their ages, the breeding effort wouldn't be a successful one.
Snowflake is 35-year-old and Yoda is 38, and it is actually the third time the pair have become parents together. The last time was 23-years ago when Snowflake gave birth to Malay - who is now an inhabitant of Zoo Knoxville in Tennessee, officials said.
In this case, baby and mother are said to be in great health. The new arrival, however, does not yet have a name. All three gibbons are being allowed some time to bond and are not currently on public exhibit.
“It’s our understanding that it is very rare for gibbons under human care and with their advanced age to successfully breed,” Andria Heath, Utica Zoo Executive Director said. “We strongly believe this was a result of the excellent care the gibbons receive on a daily basis from our animal care and veterinary team, as well as a testament to the significant improvements that were made on their habitat in 2018 as part of the ‘We Don’t Like It Either’ Campaign.”
When the trio will be ready to re-introduced publicly as a family is up in the air as zoo officials say that will, in part, be determined by what the weather is like for the remainder of the winter season.
Zoo officials also note that White-handed gibbons tend to live in social family groups of two to six members, typically consisting of a mated pair along with their offspring. Interestingly, the species is known to be mostly monogamous, with an adult breeding couple usually forming a lifelong bond.