In celebration of my parents’ 35th wedding anniversary this weekend, I have finally started on a series of cards on the theme Mates for Life, featuring different animals that mate for life (or do they?).
First up: The Gibbon
I love this pair of grumpy looking Lar gibbons (Hylobates lar)! The card needs a bit more work but you get the idea.
It was long thought that gibbons showed the perfect monogomous pairing and ‘nuclear families’ (pairs with offspring) championed by Western culture, however a study in 1993 suggested that this may not be the case. Instead of studying one pair of gibbons as had been done previously, the study followed several pairs and their offspring.
The study found that “gibbon pair bonds are not necessarily life-long and…adults may leave mates temporarily or permanently in order to exploit other reproductive opportunities.” Of the 11 pairs the study followed, only 2 pairs ended because one adult partner had died, whereas 5 ended when the adult left its current mate.
The study suggested the gibbons’ pairing may be more about territory and resources than life-long love affairs! Perhaps not quite like my parents’ wedding anniversary then…
Read more about the study on this excellent Science blog by Brian Switek.
COMING SOON: Keep an eye out on my blog for when the gibbons will appear on a card!
Reference: Palombit, R. (1994) “Dynamic pair bonds in hylobatids: implications regarding monogamous social systems.” Behavior, vol. 128 (1-2), pp. 65-101