A rare baby gibbon born less than a month ago in Belfast Zoo has died.
The zoo said the Moloch gibbon — Haja — died of malnourishment despite the efforts of staff to hand rear her after her mother fell ill. The Moloch gibbon is classed as endangered after their population worldwide dropped to less than 2,500 over the last 25 years.
Keeper Raymond Robinson said: “The death of Haja is a big blow. She was significant on so many levels to the Moloch gibbon group, our zoo and her species”.
There are only eight other zoos in the world that care for the sub-species.
The zoo's vet, Michael Griffith, said: “The milk from the mother had dried up due to mum, Assini's short period of ill health. Baby gibbons cling to their mothers so closely and are wholly dependent for the first few months.”
Staff fed Haja additional milk and fluids before trying to reintroduce her to her mother.
“Reintroduction didn't improve Haja's health and we took the difficult decision to hand rear the animal. Unfortunately after personally caring for Haja for a few days, she died.
“It is difficult to hand rear an animal that is so reliant on its birth mother,” said Zoo curator Andrew Hope.