The Chinese calendar recognizes 2015 as the year of the Monkey and Santa Clarita just so happens to be home to over seven different species of this highly endangered primate.
The Gibbon Conservation Center, or GCC, in Santa Clarita has been working closely with these apes for over 30 years and focuses on the conservation, study and care of gibbons.
“We support a wide variety of non-invasive behavioral studies that contribute to increasing the overall knowledge of gibbons, their health management and conservation.” the website says.
Director of GCC, Biologist and researcher Gabriella Skollar describes the Gibbon as one of the most musical land mammals with song.
“I hear something new every day and yeah I fall in love with them and I found out that’s what I want to do for my life, continue working with gibbons and continue learning about them and trying to protect them.” Skollar said.
Their natural habitat in Southeast Asia is destroyed at a rate of 32 acres per minute due to deforestation and poaching reducing the population drastically.
Skollar says that locals will often feel like they cannot do anything to help but even in Santa Clarita, there are ways to become involved.
Interested residents can get involved with GCC through volunteer work, donations, sponsorships and research opportunities.
At home, residents can help by reducing paper waste or switching to recycled paper and staying away from palm oil products, Skollar says.
Right now, Indonesian forests are burning in order for industries to create fields for palm plantations and trees are being cut down for paper products.
The Gibbon is noticed as one of the most endangered primates on earth and a chance to observe these apes in person can prove to be rewarding.
Pierce College student Kairo Herrelo visited the conservation center for the first time after a professor assigned an extra credit project to document what they see.
“They have different voices and their own different behaviors and I just think that it’s amazing to be here and I’m happy that I actually joined my anthropology class because I was able to experience this” Herrelo said.
The GCC is open to the public every Saturday & Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
Biology student and GCC volunteer Jeffrey Esparza helps care for the apes at the conservation center and highly advises others to do the same.
“The Conservation center is a great place, you can learn a lot about primates here. You’ll get a lot out of your experience here.” Esparza said.