March 13, 2011. Situated in the Asia section of the Zoo the new Przewalski's Wild Horse exhibit features the only remaining truly wild "horse" in the world . Thanks to the dedication of a small network of animal conservationists, a global effort has been successful in bringing this majestic animal back from the brink of extinction, right to El Paso for all to enjoy and appreciate. 
May 25, 2011. The El Paso Zoo is happy to announce the birth of a baby siamang! The small black ape, a member of the gibbon family, was born on May 2. The Zoo has been very successful in breeding these endangered primates. Another baby was born on December 2, 2007.

Last week the zoo completed a new shade structure to provide more shade for the growing family. 

Siamangs live in small families composed of a mated pair and their young. They are territorial and defend their territory with daily calls or bark-like vocalizations. When they vocalize they produce different kinds of sounds using their throat sac. After their morning ceremonial vocalizations they begin walking and climbing around their exhibit. Unlike larger apes like gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans that walk with their hands and feet siamangs walk with their hands in the air. 

The siamangs share their exhibit with a pair of Malayan tapirs and some cattle egrets in the Asia area of the Zoo.

More Siamang Facts:

Endangered: Siamangs are in the gibbon family (Hylobatidae). Nearly all sixteen species of gibbons are endangered. Siamangs are declining in numbers as their habitat is destroyed for logging and expanding palm oil plantations and as people enter their forested territory, often killing the mothers in order to capture the young for the lucrative pet market. 

Almost a third of all apes, monkeys and other primates are in danger of extinction because of rampant habitat destruction, the commercial sale of their meat and the trade in illegal wildlife. Of the world's 394 primate species, 114 are classified as threatened with extinction by the World Conservation Union. 

According to a report in October by the Associated Press on the status of the top 25 most endangered primates: "You could fit all the surviving members of the 25 species in a single football stadium; that's how few of them remain on Earth today," said Russell A. Mittermeier, president of Conservation International. "The situation is worst in Asia, where tropical forest destruction and the hunting and trading of monkeys puts many species at terrible risk," said Mittermeier, who is also chairman of the World Conservation Union's Primate Specialist Group, which prepared the report with the International Primatological Society.

Where do Siamangs live? Siamangs are found throughout southeastern Asia, including Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula. 

What do they eat? Siamangs eat fruit, leaves, insects, nuts, small animals, birds and bird's eggs. In the zoo they are fed fruit, vegetables and monkey chow.

What do they look like? Scientific Name: Pongidae Hylobates syndactylus. The Siamang is the largest of the gibbon family and an ape, not a monkey. (The characteristics distinguishing apes from monkeys are the absence of a tail, their primarily upright posture, and a highly developed brain. Gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans are also apes.)

How do they Walk? The Siamang is best at walking on two legs and has webbing between the second and third toe. When walking, Siamangs will hold their arms above their heads for balance. The Siamang is always black, with reddish-brown eyebrows. Siamangs and Gibbons have padding to help them spend a comfortable night seated on tree branches, safe from predators and huddling together in groups of two or three when they sleep. They live in family groups led by a dominant male. They are protective of one another and sociable among themselves. Along with other gibbons, the Siamangs are the top trapeze artists of the animal world and can launch themselves 30-50 feet, using their hands as hooks. While their arms are used for travel, their feet are used to carry objects.

Babies: Siamangs have one offspring after a seven-month gestation period. At birth, the young are naked, and for the first few months, the baby clings to the mother's abdomen. She keeps her legs partially raised to provide warmth and support. By the age of two, the baby is independent but still very much a part of the family. Sexual maturity is reached at about seven years of age. In the wild they live from 25 to 30 years.

The El Paso Zoo is a thirty five-acre home to about 228 species of animals. Approximately 420 mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds, 100 fish and 300 invertebrates live in a variety of natural habitat exhibits including a Reptile House, South American Pavilion, Americas Aviary, Cisneros Paraje, Birds of Prey, Forest Atrium, Asian Grasslands and an Elephant Complex. The El Paso Zoo is a member of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA). With its more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation.
Education Specialist Attends Conference and Conducts Field Work in Asia 

In November, 2011 El Paso Zoo Education Specialist, Antonia Alvarado traveled to Malaysia and Indonesia. Alvarado attended the 9th Annual Roundtable Meeting on Sustainable Palm Oil and visited sites significant to the palm oil crisis. 

"We believe this kind of investment in our staff and in our message is what separates the good zoo from the great zoo that we are. Antonia represented El Paso as one of five zoos in the United States attending this international meeting and we're very proud that we were represented," said Zoo Director Steve Marshall. 

Alvarado's trip to Asia allowed her to experience the crisis firsthand and helped her to create better programming at the zoo to educate our community about the effects of Palm Oil. Part of the zoo's mission is to educate people in order to make them better stewards and her field work while in Asia will allow her to gain valuable experiences that she will be able to share with others in El Paso. 

"The Palm Oil crisis is an environmental problem that is reversible and it is important that we share this valuable information with our community so that they can make choices that will promote a better and healthier environment, for us and for animals. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am looking forward to learning about the changes we can make to help save critically endangered animals," said Education Specialist Antonia Alvarado. 

The Palm Oil crisis negatively impacts tropics and areas in Southeast Asia- it is the main threat to rainforests and the survival of critically endangered animals such as Sumatran Orangutans and Sumatran Tigers. During Alvarado's trip, she visited certified and uncertified palm oil plantations, areas of deforestation, areas of reforestation projects, animal rehabilitation centers as well as take part in meetings with leaders in this field. 

Palm oil is used in many foods and household products. Its production destroys valuable rainforest habitats. Consumers can help by buying food and other products that do not contain palm oil. For more information on shopping palm oil free. 

Read about Antonia's journey. She posted blog updates here: 

Locally recognized as the Best Place to Take the Kiddos, the El Paso Zoo sits on 35 acres of fun and adventure. Bigger and better than ever, the El Paso Zoo is an expansive green space that is home to exotic animals from around the world and features family attractions such as the African Star train and the Hunt Family Desert Spring. Accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), the El Paso Zoo celebrates the value of animals and natural resources and creates opportunities for people to rediscover their connection to nature. For more information, visit elpasozoo.org. For news and exclusive content, follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/elpasozoo) and YouTube (www.youtube.com/user/theelpasozoo).