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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Loud Gibbons Drive Neighbors Bananas

Two love-struck gibbons have found a little bit of heaven on an island in a pond at Moscow Zoo, but some of their neighbors say the couple is raising too much hell.


Happy gibbons, it seems, are noisy gibbons.


At issue is the dawn mating ritual of the male gibbon, who sets out every morning to warn away any would-be rivals with what zoo workers call "a fairly loud call."


People living nearby call it a racket. Some have shown up at the zoo offices to complain in person. Others have written anonymous death threats.


Zoo workers aren't about to intervene in the monkey business down at the pond, however. They are overjoyed that the gibbon couple is finally showing signs of getting serious. If all goes well, the zoo hopes soon to be hearing the patter of tiny gibbon feet.


Before that can happen, however, the male must secure his dominance over his territory -- in this case two islands in the zoo pond. Hence the early morning hullabaloo.


"Humans can mate even if they do not have an apartment to live in, but for gibbons housing always comes first," said zoo spokeswoman Natalya Istratova.


Zoo workers are proud of renovation work under way at the zoo, which has made habitats cleaner, bigger and more natural for their inhabitants. Like many parts of central Moscow, the zoo is benefitting from renovation work targeted for completion by the time the capital celebrates its 850th anniversary in September.


The two gibbons, each about 15 years old, came to Moscow from other zoos several years ago. Zoo officials are hopeful they will help reverse the facility's poor mating record.


Istratova said people who complain about animal noise should remember that the zoo has stood at its current location for the past 133 years, and that all the surrounding buildings were constructed much later.


"They couldn't have expected complete silence when they moved into apartments near the zoo," she said. "Before the gibbons there were only birds living in this pond, so people complained about ducks being too noisy."


Moreover, she warned, the noise of the gibbon mating antics could soon pale in comparison to what zoo workers hope will be an even bigger success story.


"We have a maturing lion which is soon to start to roar," she said.


In African savannas, a lion's roar of claim to future mating territory can be heard for miles.