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Newborn siamang transfixes zoo visitors
The surprise birth of a Siamang is delighting visitors and keepers alike at the San Diego Zoo. "On Nov. 12th, we had a wonderful surprise and got to see our female Siamang, Eloise, give birth to her seventh offspring here on exhibit in San Diego Zoo," Heather Myers, Animal Care Supervisor, Primate Department at the San Diego Zoo said. The 37-year-old Siamang Eloise, or Ellie, and 35-year-old male, Unkie, were already successful parents, having previously produced six offspring over the years. Because the zoo already has a good representation of the pair's genes, the Siamang's had been put on birth control for a number of years. Thus, the arrival of the newborn came as an utter shock. "It was a complete surprise to the keepers because animals that succeed in the wild are very good at hiding pregnancies. Infants are in a very vulnerable stage. And Ellie did not show any outward signs of pregnancy. She didn't even gain an ounce, as a matter of fact," Myers said. "She has been on birth control for 12 years now," Myers said. "Ellie is 37 years old, which in most cases would probably be post reproductive. So we were very surprised after no weight gain, no behavioral changes, that suddenly one morning Ellie gave birth." Surprise and all, the zoo is delighted. Especially since the Siamangs, as with all gibbons, are listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. They can be found in the tropical forests of Malaysia and Indonesia.