Sequoia Park Zoo press release:
Sequoia Park Zoo staff wishes to notify the community and friends of the Zoo that a longtime resident will be leaving us soon. Bono, a White-handed gibbon who has lived at the Zoo since 1984, is getting ready to head to the Santa Barbara Zoo next month. Bono was born at Yerkes Primate Lab at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and came to Eureka at the age of two, for the purpose of pairing with Joh-leen, a young female who was born and raised here. Gibbons live in lifelong monogamous pairs, and these two gibbons were closely bonded. They shared their exhibit and lived together for 35 years, along with a core group of dedicated animal caretakers, fellow zoo residents and many zoo visitors over the decades. Regulars and residents of the neighborhood enjoyed hearing them sing their duet most mornings, watched them play and groom with one another, and swing about the exhibit in their powerful yet graceful way, which is so unique to gibbons.
In August, Joh-leen passed away after many months of illness and treatment. When it became apparent that she might not survive her condition, Zoo staff reached out to the zoo community about the likelihood of finding a new mate for Bono, which is no small task given the nature of their social structure. White-handed gibbons are a species which is cooperatively managed under the auspices of a Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, in which select species are managed among member zoos for long term genetic viability and welfare. The Gibbon SSP responded to the death of Joh-leen rapidly, and helped us determine that the best option would be to send Bono down to Santa Barbara Zoo, where an older female there recently lost her companion as well.
While this is a significant loss to Sequoia Park Zoo at this time, his welfare is our top priority, and Zoo staff are excited for the next chapter of Bono’s life with a new companion to live with, in the beautiful and expansive natural habitat at Santa Barbara Zoo. His exact departure date is still to be determined, but will likely occur the second week of December. Bono received a thorough physical exam this week in preparation. Pending review of lab results by veterinary teams at both zoos, a clean bill of health should result in approval for transfer and we will make final preparations for his departure. Animal care staff in Eureka are in touch with his future caretakers, and will be traveling with Bono to ensure a safe journey and smooth transition to his new home.
Future development phases in the Zoo’s master plan will focus on replacing the oldest exhibits with modern habitats, including a new gibbon exhibit where the old bear grotto currently sits. The current gibbon exhibit will be evaluated for use by a different species that fits within our Institutional Collection Plan.
Community members who would like to wish Bono a farewell are encouraged to visit him at the Zoo in the coming days. For more information and to view the Sequoia Park Zoo Master Plan, visit sequoiaparkzoo.net.