lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

G is for Gibbon

Tontan travel flikr gibbon


This incredible image of a lar gibbon leaping is by Tontan Travel on Flikr.

Gibbons are lightweight apes, lacking a tail, and are related to chimps, bonobos, gorillas, orangutans, and humans.

Of all the non-human apes, they move bipedally (upright) most frequently. An estimated 10% of their time is spent moving along branches on two feet, their arms in the air for balance. Although they lack the two bends in the spine that make true walking possible all the time, they are studied by scientists who are investigating how we first became upright walkers.

Gibbons are in fact amazingly well-designed to move at speed (up to 35mph) through the trees using a method known as brachiation. They have incredibly long arms and hook-shaped hands that grasp branches well enough to swing from arm to arm in a pendulum-like way, and as they are so light they can fling themselves with some force by letting go of one branch before grasping another up to 50 feet ahead.

They are omnivorous, but favour ripe fruit, particularly figs.

Gibbons live in small troops led by an alpha male and female, and unusually for primates, they mate for life.

Known as quite vocal, the forest often echoes with their haunting calls, and they gather to sing quite complex songs. Scientists have recently deciphered many of their calls as specific ‘words’ naming different animals and predators, and warning signals.

Nearly all species of gibbon are considered endangered by deforestation and habitat loss.

Here is my gibbon poem:




Gibbons are all great leapers,

from tree to tree they spring,

apes in great shape to brachiate

they really like to swing,


hook hands to grip on branches,

long arms to reach and fling,

they walk a branch by shuffle

but much prefer to swing,


in the evening forest

they gather round to sing,

they’re clinging, springing, singing things

the jungle kings of swing!


© Liz Brownlee


If you’d like to visit another A-Z Blog, please click on the symbol in the right-hand column!


Information from:

A-Z Animals.

Gibbon Research Lab.

National Geographic.

The Telegraph science ed.

Image by Tontan Travel by Creative Commons License.

Prose and Poem © Liz Brownlee, all rights reserved, not to be used in any manner whatsoever without the permission of the author.


  1. Neat information about ribbons. Thanks for stopping by my blog!


    • Thank you, Jeanne, and thank you for reciprocating!


  2. I’ve had the chance to see Gibbons at the zoo! Fun to watch.

    Yvonne V


  3. I love these apes actually. I saw a show about unusual bonds and this Gibbon chose to hang around another type of monkey and the scientists can’t figure out why but he simply likes them better. Great poem once again


    • Yes, they are intelligent – how interesting! Thanks, Birgit, I’ll Google that and see if the clip is on Youtube…


  4. I would love to be that agile!


    • Liz, you are wonderfully agile and vital. I think being that agile would be quite a waste on most of us…


  5. Love this, Liz. “Brachiate” is such a gift of a word for a poet! 🙂


    • Isn’t it just! Bit of a pain when talking about orangutans though, who can only semi-brachiate, which is a bit of a mouthful!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I guess that’s where some artistic licence could come into play!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. greyzoned/angelsbark

    I have never heard of the Gibbon! Interesting! They certainly are built for speed and agility. That photo is incredible! And I love your poem!
    The evening singing is truly interesting: so amazing that the scientists have deciphered specific words. These beings are so very smart!
    Great series Liz.

    Michele at Angels Bark

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Michele! I have two gibbon poems, actually, but the other one is going in a book so had to write another!


  7. Thea OBrian

    35 miles an hour? oh my! Now that takes a lot of muscle to get that momentum. Thanks for sharing this post.


    • Hello, Thea! Thank you. It’s amazing, isn’t it, considering they are going through trees and not on a road. And travelling by arm!


  8. Great blog. I was privileged to see albatross on the Galapagos Islands many years ago. I love the stories of all these endangered species and look forward to more.


  9. sarahallanauthor

    What a cute poem! I love learning about different animals. I didn’t know they could move so quickly through the trees–35mph? Wow!


  10. Thats a lovely poem in rhyme.Ape family is never ending…maybe you can find A to Z in varieties of apes itself 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Well – there are 17 species of gibbon, 3-4 (I’ve seen different scientists’ opinions) species of gorilla, 2 species of chimpanzee (chimpanzees and bonobos), 2 species of orangutan and only one species of human which makes only 25 species, just short, presuming they all have a different letter!

      Liked by 1 person

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