Tong just received the most adorable valentine from Katherine, one of Tong’s most recent adopters.

Valentine for Tong-outside

It opens to reveal a lovely message.

Valentine for Tong-inside

And this week it so happens that we have very exciting (and seasonally appropriate) news about Tong: she’s no longer single! She and Gibby were placed together this past Tuesday, and they are clearly enjoying each other’s company. 

Gibby and Tong

Gibby (left) and Tong already act like they’ve been together for years–not just since last Tuesday!

Tong is the one of the original four young gibbons who came to the U.S. with IPPL founder Shirley McGreal when she moved to South Carolina from Thailand. When the four youngsters grew too old to be playmates, Sapphire was paired with the male Durga, and Tong was paired with Brownie.

Tong as a youngster back in the 1970s, before she changed to her gold adult coloration.

Tong as a youngster back in the 1970s, before she changed to her gold adult coloration.

All three of Tong’s former companions have since passed away from various ailments (they were all estimated to be nearly 40 years old—a good age for a gibbon), but Tong has continued to be in excellent health.

After Brownie died, we tried having several different males live close to Tong, to see who might be the best fit with her personality. As our senior caregiver Donetta says, “It can sometimes take a while to figure out whether gibbons like each other.” But Tong is very people-oriented—part of her legacy as a former pet—and she mostly seemed happy receiving regular visits from her human friends and caregivers.

Gibby in the lab, circa 1990, where he was used for locomotion studies. His fur was darker then from lack of exposure to sunlight.

Gibby is a former lab gibbon who came to IPPL in 2007. He was unpaired at the time, but we know that he had had mates previously. After some changes to the gibbon living arrangements here, Gibby was moved next to Tong in March of last year.

We were hopeful, but initial signs were not super-encouraging. I remember one day approaching Tong’s run near to Gibby’s enclosure and hearing her chatter excitedly—to her lunch bucket!

Tong invites Gibby to play.

Tong invites Gibby to play.


Tong gives Gibby a good grooming.

Tong gives Gibby a good grooming.


However, there was never any sign of aggression between them, so last Tuesday we went ahead and made the experiment: we opened the doors between their two outdoor areas. And they immediately—ran past each other to check out the other’s enclosure: a very good sign in a territorial species!

But once that essential introductory phase was over, they soon started hugging, grooming, play-chasing, and wrestling each other. And so it’s been ever since.

Sometimes it’s fun just to hang out.

“Already they seem like they’ve been together for years,” says our animal caregiver Brandon.

What a lovely Valentine’s Day gift—for each other.



  1. marianne on February 12, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    at last my boy has someone to be with. after all of his years of being a strong gibbon and facing alot of difficult situations, it is heartwarming to see him once again with a mate and i hope this lasts forever. it will in my time frame for gibby. i love you gibster marianne.

  2. Kristin on February 12, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    Love is in the air!! So happy Gibster has a wife!! xoxoxox

  3. Belinda on February 14, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    This is so good for gibby! I’m glad that both of them now have someone to love :)