Baby Leela Starts to Explore

Here at the Houston Zoo, in the Wortham World of Primates, baby siamang Leela is now 9 weeks old and developing very nicely. She still spends time on mom Jambi’s ankle, but we have noticed in the past week or so that we are seeing her on her mother’s chest in the normal position more often.

We hypothesize that Leela is now becoming too heavy for Jambi to drag around like the proverbial ball and chain, so she is allowing her back up where she belongs.

Little Leela nursing

Leela has been reaching out for food and to investigate new objects in the past two weeks, but has been unable to really grasp anything until now as her hand/eye coordination is still lacking. However, just this morning we witnessed her grab a piece of kale, bring it unsteadily to her tiny mouth, take a bite, and actually ingest a molecule of solid food by herself! And, before mama took off, she grasped a parsley stem in her fingers and held on tightly to it as Jambi went up high in the trees.

New props in the form of vines, flexible rubber tubing and some low hanging bamboo have been added to the siamang exhibit to provide travel pathways for Leela once she decides to start getting off Jambi. She has already begun exploring them by touching and grasping some of these objects, and we expect that in the next few weeks and months many guests will get the wonderful treat of observing Leela discover her new world!  Please come to visit! And if you have seen her, let us know in the comments!

Written by Lynn Killam, Primate Supervisor

Photo by Cheka Kazen

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