Lar Gibbon


Conservation status: ENDANGERED
Common name: Lar gibbon, white-handded gibbon
Scientific name: Hylobates lar
Type: mammal
Diet: fruit, leaves, insects, flowers
Length: 46 cm
Weight: 5.9 kg (male), 5.4 kg (female)

White-handed gibbons are small tailless apes with soft, thick fur. They live in trees and like to stay high up in the canopy of trees. Their very long arms allow them to swing effortlessly among the tree branches. They can also change direction in a split second, and can catch birds in midair and eat them after landing. Gibbons are among the fastest of all primates.

They are so fast that they barely touch a branch before swinging off and grabbing the next branch, and they “fly” up 40 feet through the air and leap long distances before landing. They can cross rivers or large openings in the forest with this acrobatic technique. Gibbons sometimes have accidental falls if a branch breaks and they do suffer from bone fractures in the wild.

They sleep sitting up in trees with bent knees and faces buried between the knees and chest. Gibbons are bipedal and walk across tree limbs on two feet. They hold their arms high in the air for balance when they walk or run along the ground or on branches.

White-handed gibbons have white fur on the upper sides of their hands and feet. They live in small family groups made up of a male and female pair and their young. They sing duets, with the male and female complementing each other’s part. These duets help the couple bond and mark their territory.

The white-handed gibbon is sometimes hunted for its meat and young gibbons are sold in the pet trade in some countries, particularly Thailand.

Many are white at birth and do not develop their final color until two to four years old.



  1. Brockelman, W.; Geissmann, T. (2008). “Hylobates lar“. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  2. Anne A. McCormack/NGS Staff from

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