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Meet the senior citizens of the Racine Zoo

Posted at 7:33 PM, Feb 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-17 20:33:24-05

RACINE — The Racine Zoo is home to some of the oldest animals, relative to their species, in North America.

The two white-handed gibbons living at the zoo are the oldest of their kind in the continent. The male, Yule, is 53, and his daughter, Robin, is 40. For context, the average life expectancy of a white-handed gibbon is about 20 to 30 years old the zoo said.

"They are actually far older than their lifespan would be in the wild," Curator of Animal Care and Animal Conservation Educator for the zoo, Aszya Summers, said.

That means they are reaching nearly double their life expectancy. A big part of that is the availability of resources. Nutritious food and consistent medical care play a crucial role.

"They see a vet more often than I see a doctor for sure," Summers said.

Both gibbons are in good overall health.

However, the gibbons aren't the only senior citizens that call the zoo home. Tavek and May, the Western Caucasian Turs, also are among the oldest, relative to age compared to their species, in the zoo.

Tavek is 14 and May is 17. That's not nearly as old as the gibbons, but the average life expectancy of a Tur is 10 years old.

May, the elder, is doing fine. However, Tavek is starting to develop some health issues.

"We have seen a few early signs of arthritis in Tavek. He has a little bit of a harder time getting up especially if he has been sleeping for a little while just like we do sometimes as we get older," Summers said.

Other than a bit of arthritis, Tavek is in good health.

Life in captivity is much easier on animals than in the wild which is part of the reason animals in zoos can surpass their regular life expectancy.

"They don’t face some of the challenges they would in the wild not only from diseases, not being able to find enough food, but also loss of habitat," Summers said.

If you didn't know their age you wouldn't be able to tell these animals were among the oldest living in the world. The gibbons still swing from branch to branch with ease, and the turs easily climb the rock set up for them.

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