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The Racine Zoo is celebrating a very special birthday this week. Yule, a white-handed gibbon, is turning 55 years old, this Friday, May 28. His birthday will be spent with many zoo-goers and staff, and he will be given special birthday enrichment for this exciting occasion.

Yule was born May 6, 1966, and he is the oldest known gibbon in North America, outliving the average gibbon lifespan of 30 – 44 years. Thanks to the incredible care of his keepers, Yule is still healthy and is as spry as ever. He regularly eats prunes to keep him regular and his vet has even started giving him gummy vitamins to keep him healthy. Yule lives with his daughter, Robin, who is 41 years old, also exceeding the average lifespan of a gibbon. The two of them have a very close bond. At the Zoo, you can find Yule hanging out with Robin, swinging from branches, and practicing his territorial call!

Gibbons typically live in southeast Asia in tropical rain forests. They are quite picky eaters and love to eat fruits and greens, but will make sure they are ripe before eating them. Gibbons are great brachiators, meaning they are known for overhead arms winging. They have the longest arms relative to body size of all primates. This helps them move quickly and easily through branches. White-handed gibbons exist in two color morphs, black and blonde. Yule is a black morph gibbon.

Unfortunately, gibbons are one of the most endangered ape species. Their habitats are threatened by the expansion of logging and agriculture. If you want to help gibbons like Yule, it is recommended to make responsible consumer choices, like buying locally grown groceries and sustainable wood.

Yule’s birthday is truly a momentous occasion. If you want to celebrate with the Racine Zoo, stop by the Vanishing Kingdom this week and wish him a Happy 55th Birthday!