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Species of the week

Agile Gibbon

Hylobates agilis

Hylobates agilis

Some facts on this ape:

Head and body length: 45–65 cm.

Weigth: Males: 5–7.5 kg.; females: 4.5–7.3 kg.

Habitat: Semi-deciduous (trees that lose their leaves seasonally) monsoon and tropical evergreen forest.

Distribution: Indonesia on the island of Sumatra, Malaysia, and southern Thailand.

Diet: Generally frugivorous but subsists also on leaves, flowers, and insects.

Surviving number: Unknown, population declining.

Conservation status: Endangered (IUCN 3.1).

First described: By the French zoologist and palaeontologist Frédéric Cuvier in 1821.


Hylobates agilis is an able singer as well as an accomplished swinger. This gibbon begins its day with complex songs, including solos and male-female duets. The calls serve to advertise territory and the strength of the pair's bond. As to swinging, these primates use their long, powerful arms to rapidly swing from tree to tree in search of sweet fruits, immature leaves and insects. They contribute to the forest's health by dispersing seeds for next tree generations. As trees are being cut, they become vulnerable to habitat loss and fragmentation, and their songs may be silenced forever. The Agile Gibbon belongs to the Hylobatidae family (Gibbons) which includes 17 species.

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