Silver Springs 123-compressed

Yesterday we were thrilled to welcome a new family of gibbons to our sanctuary!

Silver Springs Four

All four gibbons at their former home at the Silver Springs attraction in Florida. (Thanks to their long-time dedicated caregiver Joann Zeliff for this picture!)

Say hello to the Silver Springs Four: Glenda and Gary, their daughter Kendra, and their son Thai.


Cheri and Glenda

Cheri pats Glenda’s toes, minutes after the family’s arrival.

Glenda is a sweetheart and very people-friendly. Minutes after they arrived yesterday, she was allowing our staff to pet her toes. And twice today (both times squeaking meekly) she has offered me her belly to blow kisses on. But she’s active and inquisitive: she was the first to start exploring their new outdoor enclosures this morning.


Gary on arrival

After they arrived yesterday, Gary was the first to take a banana.

Like Glenda, Gary was probably born around 1975, and they arrived together at Silver Springs in 1983. Gary is a little guy—rather smaller than his long-time mate—but with a lovely blond coat. He seems a little on the timid side but has a good appetite. We already know: Gary likes beets!



Kendra already shows signs of being quite a spunky gibbon gal!

The full, official name of Glenda and Gary’s 13-year-old daughter is “Kenabalou;” her previous nickname was “Kenny,” but we have decided to tweak this slightly and now call her “Kendra.” She was persuaded to stick her nose outside her night quarters this morning by the hope of pulling our caregiver Hardy’s hair.



Thai is our new “Buddha Boy”!

Their 12-year-old son Thai is maybe a little more shy than the others and was the last to emerge from the family’s night quarters this afternoon. Thai may be a big boy, but his dad can still boss him around: yesterday we saw Thai get out of the way repeatedly so that Dad could sit in his preferred spot on their corner perch.

Gary and Thai

Gary (left) may be smaller than his son Thai, but daddy is still the boss: here, Gary is displacing Thai from his preferred perch in the corner.

This gibbon family came to us from the classic Silver Springs tourist attraction in Ocala, Florida. The facility is disbanding its animal operations, though they will continue to use the place as a venue for concerts and special events. We were delighted when we learned that the management had chosen to re-home their four gibbons to IPPL.

Silver Springs entrance

The entrance to the gibbons’ former home, in Ocala, Florida.

In a way these gibbons are—literally—already part of the IPPL family: our own Elizabeth, who came here in 1985, is Glenda and Gary’s daughter. Now we all know where she got her lovely blonde coat: it’s just like her dad’s!


Gary has a handsome blond coat that glows in the sun.

This past Sunday, two of our animal caregivers, Meg and Hardy, drove down to Florida to pick up the family. Although Glenda and Gary had previously lived on an island as part of the Silver Springs jungle cruise, since the late 1990s they had been living with their growing family in large enclosures elsewhere in the park. More recently, they had been transferred to catch cages in anticipation of the move.

Silver Springs staff

The dedicated Silver Springs staff (flanked by IPPL caregivers Meg on the left and Hardy on the right) bid a somewhat tearful farewell to their beloved gibbons.

The gibbons were loaded into three travel crates for the trip, one for mom and dad and one for each of the kids. Glenda and Gary went into their crate willingly, but the kids had to be darted. Their former caregivers said good-bye—and the IPPL team was off.

Unloading Gary and Glenda

Hardy (left) and Brandon unload Gary and Glenda’s travel crate and carry them over to their night quarters in IPPL’s Gibbon House #8.

After an uneventful six hour drive, the IPPL crew arrived. The family was quickly placed into Gibbon House #8, which has two adjoining indoor night quarters. Michael and Cathy, the previous occupants, were moved into Gibbon House #9 a little over a week ago.

Their gibbon neighbors have been showing a lot of interest in the newcomers, especially Elsa. I think she has been especially dramatic today with her vocalizations, foot-drumming, and other raucous territorial displays.


Elsa has been putting on a fine territorial display for her new gibbon neighbors!

Elsa with veggies

This pile of shredded veggies (foreground) is courtesy of Elsa and lies directly below the spot in her runway that is the closest she can get to the new family. As part of her territorial display, Elsa has already been observed to “eat aggressively” in Glenda’s general direction.

I was curious to know how soon the new family would start asserting itself with its own territorial vocalizations. Earlier in the morning, Glenda had been heard to make a few tentative, surprised “hoo!” calls, but that was all. Well, around 12:15 today our gibbons started to chorus, beginning with the gang in the main gibbon yard some distance away and then joined by the nearby inhabitants of Gibbon Houses #7 and #9.

Glenda listens

Glenda listened intently to the calls of the other IPPL gibbons.

When the chorus first started up, I could see Glenda listening intently. Then she made her way up to the top of her northern lookout tower and started making some trembly “hoo-oo-oo” vocalizations. I thought that might be it–but in less than 10 minutes, I heard her give a full-on female Great Call! (Gary should have joined her, but he was working on some yummy beet slices at the time….)

Glenda in tower

Glenda was calling to the other IPPL gibbons this afternoon.

 I think Silver Springs Four are adjusting just fine!



  1. Claudia Labbe on May 14, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    Dear Entire Staff of IPPL:
    Please accept my personal thanks for the great kindness shown towards not only the “Silver Springs Gibbon Family” but to their keeper staff at the theme park. This has been a tremendously emotional time for them all to lose all the animals they love so much. The Gibbons were one of the most special animals which resided there. The peace of knowing where they now reside is worth more than you can ever know to all who love them. God bless you! With my (and many other keepers over the years past) gratitude, I thank you SO much! We have all been sharing with each other the news of their welfare. With Gibbon hugs to them and you all! Claudia Labbe’ (one of their former caregivers)

    • Sharon on May 15, 2013 at 12:32 pm

      Thank you, Claudia! We are thrilled to have them. I just went out to see how they are doing. Glenda and Gary were perched next to each other in that tower that Glenda was calling from yesterday. Kendra and Thai were sitting together on top of one of their wooden climbing towers. After a minute, I saw Kendra give him a quick groom. I think they’ll do well here!

  2. Elayne D. Lindsey on May 16, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Thank you so much for giving our wonderful family a new and beautiful place to call home.
    I am the Administrative Assistant at Silver Springs, so have alot of contact with the Wildlife Staff and know that they were saddened as I was to see our animals leave us but you have really helped soffen the blow.
    Thank you so much!

    • Sharon on May 17, 2013 at 4:44 pm

      Hello Elayne! We are doing our best to make them feel at home. Earlier today I saw that our animal care staff had placed a tub of water in one of the enclosures so that Gary can dunk his biscuits in it, just like he used to enjoy doing down in Florida. From all the notes and everything we have received from the Silver Springs staff, I can tell how much you and everyone knew and loved these animals!

  3. Diane on May 17, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    It is very exciting to read about IPPL’s new gibbon family. Thanks for sharing the details — so interesting. I am imagining the sadness at Silver Springs, but am so happy the connection is friendly and reassuring to all. I can’t wait to meet the Silver Spring Four!

    • Sharon on May 20, 2013 at 9:00 am

      You’ll love them, Diane! And it has been really fun to start getting to know their personalities over the last week!

  4. Patricia Stidom on May 18, 2013 at 5:20 am

    My husband recently took me to Silver Springs to see the wonderful park that he went to as a child. He was (as I) saddened to hear that the nature park was closing to re-open as a state park later this year. I especially like the Gibbons and got lots of photos of them while we were there. I was thrilled to hear that these beautiful creatures were coming to SC! I was wondering if your facility was open to the public? It would be great to see the Silver Spring Gibbons in their new ‘home’! God bless your organization for taking them in and for all that is done for God’s creatures!

    • Sharon on May 20, 2013 at 8:58 am

      Hello Patricia,
      We are so happy to have them here! However, unlike Silver Springs, we are a sanctuary and so we’re not open to the general public. I’ll mention, though, that we have a spring meeting specifically for our supporters every two years at our sanctuary. The next one will be next March or April. If you donate to IPPL (see the red button at the top of the page) and thus help support the gibbons we all care about, we’ll send you an invitation!

  5. Dr Suzanne Billiar on May 19, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    Thank you for providing such an awesome home to the Silver Springs 4 gibbons.
    As their full time veterinarian for 4 years straight from 1991 to 1996 I was fortunate enough to get to see them every day & veterinary care when need. Then I became their on call veterinarian as the number of animals were decreased in numbers. Once Glenda aborted probably due to a waterbuck that swam & ran across their island. Glenda needed to be caught up for care as she quit eating & had a discharge.
    When she got better we took her back to her Island by boat. The reunion with her family was awesome! To view how beautiful of an Island they lived on & the reunion you can go to my YOUTUBE channel & watch the short movie. We also had put an implant in Glenda under anesthesia for birth control as upper management requested.
    There are more videos on my YouTube channel taken during my experiences at SILVER SPRINGS!
    Just to let it be known I vasectomized Gary at a latter point so the girls did not need implants, yet it allowed Gary remain the boss over the other male. They are a truly lovely group of apes.
    Suzanne Billiar, DVM
    All Pets Clinic Ocala FL

  6. Sue on June 5, 2013 at 5:51 am

    I work at Silver Springs I was so happy to see all this on the Gibbons Family I miss so much. Every morning before work I would take a walk all the way to the back of the park listen to them making all there noise. if I happened to stop to see them they will be right there in front to greet me. We loved them dearly. I miss taking my walk and seeing all of our animals but knowing where they went and hoping that we can see them in pictures of how happy they are is such of a good feeling thank you so much for taking
    them in and sharing the pics.

  7. Joanne Zeliff on June 7, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Thank you Shirley and IPPL staff once again for giving our Gibbon family such a great home. The many keepers that worked here know I worked with the parents since they came to the park in 1983. We have alot of history together but I was always so touched by the unconditional love that the mom “Glenda” would give us. If you were a female keeper (now it’s great to see she has softened to some men) you couldn’t go into the cage without a big cry and hug from her. When we would do repairs in her cage she loved climbing the ladder and “supervise” our work. When I was having a bad day I always knew I could get a hug from her to make me feel better. There were very few animals that I have worked with during my 33 yrs. here that would react that way to us keepers. Even after going through the trauma of the darting and move she would always “forgive” me with a hug. I do miss their beautiful song every morning at around 10 a.m. I have never worked so hard to keep a family of animals together through the years as I did with this Gibbon family so I feel so rewarded to have been able to send them to a place they will always be together at. Thank you again.