MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Zoo Miami officials are mourning the loss of one of their oldest primates, Priscilla.
Zoo officials had to make the very difficult decision to euthanize Prisilla, an endangered Lar gibbon, after she experienced a steep decline in her health and was diagnosed with a non-treatable condition that severely deteriorated her quality of life. She was the last Lar gibbon at Zoo Miami.
At an estimated age of over 48 years, Prisilla was almost the oldest primate in Zoo Miami’s collection and the third oldest Lar gibbon in all of North America. (The oldest primate at the zoo is Bubbles, a 51-year-old chimpanzee.)
Priscilla was one of the last animals at Zoo Miami that was born in the wild as the overwhelming majority of the collection was born under human care.
Priscilla arrived at Zoo Miami (then Miami Metrozoo) in May of 1981, prior to the zoo’s official Grand Opening in December of that year and was the long time mate of “Fang,” the legendary Lar gibbon that at the time of his death, was the oldest member of his species in the Western Hemisphere. During her more than three decades at the zoo, Prisilla produced 8 offspring that have gone on to start their own families at other facilities.
Along with her neighbors, the siamangs, Prisilla was a crowd favorite as she was seen swinging through her habitat and heard emitting her high pitched calls as part of a daily morning ritual.
Lar gibbons are found in lowland forests of Southeast Asia and feed on a variety of fruits, leaves, flowers, and insects while occasionally eating bird eggs.
They spend the majority of their time in the tree canopy where they can brachiate quickly between branches, sometimes covering gaps of over 30 feet in one swing!
Unlike monkeys which have tails, gibbons are tailless lesser apes which are in a separate branch of the primate family.