Hanging with Gibbons at the Reid Park Zoo

The bright blue afternoon sky contrasted with the black metal bars of the gibbon enclosure at the Reid Park Zoo. Clouds floated overhead like white, wispy feathers gliding on a gentle breeze. Sunshine danced through the bars of the cage that housed three visible gibbons hanging from the top of it.

All of a sudden, the gibbon on the left swung from the top of the cage, silhouetting himself against the sunlight. He dangled effortlessly among the lush, green leaves that hung down from trees that served the gibbons as a surrogate rain forest. The other two gibbons watched him as he approached the cage wall where they hung. Their black padded feet were outlined by fuzzy white fur, which they used as much as their tan hands for hanging.

sunlitgibbon
A Gibbon hangs from its cage at Reid Park Zoo, February 2015. Tucson, AZ

A fence made of thick, black horizontal rails kept visitors to the zoo a few feet away from the gibbons’ cage. People of all ages lingered on the sidewalk on the human side of the cage. Some stopped momentarily to observe, while others stopped to take pictures. The laughter of children intermingled with various conversations in English and Spanish as the sound of footsteps and rolling stroller wheels on the pavement intertwined with faraway running water and quacking ducks.

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Birds play at Reid Park Zoo, February 2015. Tucson, AZ

Behind a wooden fence, two large, graceful white birds frolicked together while a free-range peacock casually walked down the twisted sidewalk and through the large, shady trees. A single leaf fluttered down from the cool, green canopy into its pathway, yet it went unacknowledged by the colorful, majestic bird as it continued strolling toward a destination known only to itself.

Article originally written February 2015.