“Really? Right here in front of the kid?” Siamang Eloise sends a little side-eye as orangutan Sandee gets busy “checking the undercarriage.” But zoo officials remain hopeful that not only Eloise but also her offspring will learn about the benefits of self-care from their less procreative cousins.
Earlier this month, the San Diego Zoo’s siamang gibbon Eloise gave birth to her seventh child, despite the fact that she had been receiving chemical contraceptives for years. Even though gibbons are an endangered species, “the better option was to put her on birth control after her sixth,” said Zoo animal care manager Hugh Genicks. “Unfortunately, even though Eloise is quite old, she still hasn’t lost…interest in her partner Unkie, nor he in her. Until now, of course. Now she’s all about her newest little cuddle-monkey, and Unkie might as well be a total stranger.”
Unkie shoots a simultaneously mournful and reproachful stare at his handlers, who had led him to believe that this sort of thing wouldn’t be an issue any more, while Eloise dotes on the newborn.
Genicks stressed that the zoo was happy to welcome the new life — “It’s not like it was born into some already overcrowded, relatively unwanted population, like the horned zoo filler in Africa Rocks” — but still worried about the example the pair might be setting for their fellow primates, “especially those on the other side of the exhibit glass. I mean, seven? We kind of hoped that putting them in with a notoriously masturbatory population like the orangutans would take care of the matter, but alas.”