marc bence/for metro edmonton


Zookeeper Andi Sime holds Penelope, the Valley Zoo’s newest addition, yesterday as it clutches its favourite stuffed polar bear. The baby white-handed gibbon had to be delivered through emergency caesarian section last month with its umbilical cord twisted around its neck. Penelope is now doing well.

Visitors at the Valley Zoo will have to wait a few more weeks to finally say hello to Penelope, an endangered white-handed baby gibbon.

The tiny baby, with two-beady black eyes and short black hair, was born Dec. 9 to the zoo’s Julia and Chan.

Veterinarians were concerned Penelope wouldn’t survive since she had to be born through an emergency caesarian section, with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, twice.

Penelope is making a steady recovery, however, as the gibbon continues to be hand-raised 24 hours a day by zookeeper Andi Sime.

"She’s a very robust and healthy little girl," she said yesterday. "I get to see her changing and growing, and figuring things out everyday. It’s very neat."

The infant’s mother, Julia, was unable to care for Penelope after the incision on her stomach, and veterinarians discovered that the mother didn’t have enough milk to support the baby’s needs, says Sime. Zoo officials have to wait to see when the 551-gram baby can eat solid foods before she can be re-introduced to her family.

ape kin

  • White-handed gibbons, members of the ape family, live in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.