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One of two gibbons at Santa Barbara Zoo dies

Posted at 4:33 PM, Jul 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-11 20:03:23-04

The Santa Barbara Zoo is mourning the death of one of its white-handed gibbons.

The zoo says five-year-old Jari apparently got her head tangled in a net that was in her enclosure and she was not breathing when her keeper found her.

The zoo says it happened shortly after Jari went out on exhibit Thursday morning. She was reportedly rushed to the animal hospital but attempts to revive her were unsuccessful.

Zoo officials say the net is commonly used for primate enrichment and similar netting is used in human play structures.

“We assess the potential safety risks of everything we put in our animals’ exhibits, but there was no way to anticipate this,” said Dr. Julie Barnes, Vice President of Animal Care & Health. “It appears to have been a very unfortunate accident. We will investigate this tragedy and send reports to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees licensed exhibitors that hold animals, and to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Accreditation Commission.”

Jari, the white-handed gibbon (Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Zoo)


Jari arrived at the Santa Barbara Zoo in 2017, where she was fostered by the zoo’s elder gibbon, Jasmine.

“Jasmine, who is 41 years old, remains at the Zoo and we will be talking to the AZA in coming days about finding a suitable companion for her. But for now we are mourning Jari,” Dr. Barnes said.

Jari and Jasmine (Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Zoo)


In December 2018, a 35-year-old white-handed gibbon that had been moved to the Santa Barbara Zoo a month earlier died of cancer.

The zoo said they didn’t know Nikko was ill before he was transferred from the Oakland Zoo.