Gibbon Facts



  • The gibbons of Southeast Asia are the smallest and most agile of the apes. They pair for life, and each couple has its own song of whoops and wails.
  • Swinging by their long arms, gibbons hurtle through the forest, flying up to 15 m between hand-holds.
  • Gibbons have the longest arms, relative to body size, of all the primates. They often hang by just one arm.
  • No-one has been able to keep up with gibbons to time how fast they swing arm over arm (brachiation).
  • Siamangs are the largest gibbons, at up to 15 kg.
  • About 2 million years ago there was only one gibbon species, but Ice Age changes in sea levels created forest islands, where separate species developed.
  • A gibbon sleeps sitting up on a branch with its head between its bent knees, not in a nest like great apes.
  • Gibbons are more closely related to orang-utans than to the chimps and gorillas of Africa.
  • Gibbons have extremely flexible shoulder joints, and can rotate through 360° while hanging from one arm.
  • In the black gibbon species, the male is all black, the female light cream with a black face.