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Gibbon In London Zoo Has Started Singing To Himself To Cope With Loneliness

Gibbon In London Zoo Has Started Singing To Himself To Cope With Loneliness

One of ZSL London Zoo's apes has reportedly started singing to himself because of his extreme loneliness.

Poor Jimmy - a 30-year-old white-cheeked gibbon - was used to entertaining visitors every day before the pandemic meant the attraction had to shut its doors.

Described as "an attention seeker and a ladies' man" by keepers, the ape has missed interacting with his adoring public so much that he's had to take up a now hobby to keep himself occupied.

Jimmy, who lives in his enclosure with 20-year-old son Yoda, started singing his own "beautiful song" to cope with the unprecedented circumstances.

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The poor gibbon is missing social interaction (Credit: Caters)
The poor gibbon is missing social interaction (Credit: Caters)

"Jimmy is doing this amazing singing every morning, which attracts a lot of attention. So, although he's not getting the attention he is used to having, he is at least finding ways of interacting with the keepers," Tony Cholerton, senior keeper at the zoo, said today.

"We encourage Jimmy to do his singing. It's a specific song to him. It's quite difficult to describe it but it's a beautiful song that carries right across Regent's Park [the park in which ZSL London Zoo sits].

"He's in the enclosure with his son who also has started singing. With the singing, they do it as a duet. They do that to keep themselves interested.

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"He really likes interacting with people a lot. So this is interesting, it's [the lockdown] something new for all the animals. It's something new for Jimmy to adapt to and he has done that."

The gibbon now sings to himself (Credit: Caters)
The gibbon now sings to himself (Credit: Caters)

Jimmy and Yoda, the latter named after the Star Wars character, are the only gibbons who currently reside at the zoo.

However, London Zoo is now looking at bringing in a female to give him some more company, particularly while he doesn't have the crowds to entertain him.

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Mr Cholerton, who has been a keeper there for nearly 25 years, added: "Jimmy is certainly an attention seeker and a ladies' man.

"We are looking at our options in getting a female in but that'll be for next year now if it happens.

"In the summer, it would usually be really, really busy and they'd be thousands of people going past Jimmy every day. We'd usually be open now but it'd be less busy.

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"Jimmy is a really fun character. He always finds ways to enjoy himself normally and play around, especially if there are people involved. He loves swinging around his enclosure and trying to impress everybody."

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Other animals are also feeling isolated (Credit: Caters)
Other animals are also feeling isolated (Credit: Caters)
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The first national lockdown saw the zoo have to close for the longest time in its 200 year history - even longer than any closures as a result of wars.

Other animals, including its four gorillas, several pygmy goats and Humboldt penguins, have also felt the effects of the lack of visitors.

Mr Cholerton said: "We had been shut for quite a long time initially. We had never been closed for that length of time ever. Even during the wars, we stayed open.

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"So it was really interesting to see how the animals reacted when the people came back briefly and, sure enough, Jimmy really tried to get close to people and interact with them again.

"Jimmy really does have an eye for the ladies so he really tends to make a big fuss over them. He thoroughly enjoyed having the public back in but now, of course, they're gone again."

He added: "The gorillas are our [human's] closest living relatives so they are used to having people coming by. They are a nice social group. We do lots of enrichment for them, so they are getting on with things and just doing what gorillas do."

The animals are eager for humans to return (Credit: Caters)
The animals are eager for humans to return (Credit: Caters)

While some office staff are back on furlough, zookeepers are still working, and trying to keep the animals as occupied possible throughout this tough situation.

ZSL Director General Dominic Jermey said: "London Zoo - and our sister site, Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire - have had to close their doors for the second time in 2020, putting us under immense strain following the toughest year in our 200-year history.

"Closing our doors cuts off our main source of income but we have immoveable outlays; it costs around £1million a month just to care for and feed the 20,000 animals at our two zoos, but our essential zookeepers and vets cannot be furloughed, nor do we qualify to access the Zoo Fund.

"The animals continue to receive world-class care, and our zookeepers are ensuring their routines are not disrupted - while Jimmy the gibbon is definitely missing showing off for our visitors, his keepers are making sure he's getting lots of extra attention.

"We're asking everyone to consider supporting us - be that a donation, buying a gift ticket for a future visit or becoming a member, there are lots of ways to help."

You can donate to ZSL Zoos here.

Featured Image Credit: Caters

Topics: Life News, News, Coronavirus, Animals

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Joanna Freedman

Joanna is a journalist at Tyla with a particular interest in highlighting women's issues and telling inspiring first person stories. She's also their resident foodie, and loves covering exciting new beauty launches, too. Contact her at [email protected]