Local Gibbon Center

by Cougar News Contributor 160 views0

By Ian Murray

While many COC students view the Santa Clarita Valley as another suburban hamster cage filled with nothing but shopping malls and white picket fences, the area actually holds many unseen facets and depths.

From the natural beauty of Vasquez Rocks to the vast meadows of Elsmere Canyon, Santa Clarita is a haven for those interested in nature. One such overlooked gem which may appeal to anyone who loves wildlife is the Gibbon Center.

The Gibbon Center was founded in Saugus in 1976 by Alan Richard Mootnick, a renowned primatologist who served as Director until his death in 2011.

Located on Esquerra Road off of Bouquet Canyon, not very far from Lombardi Ranch, the Gibbon Center is a natural wildlife preserve dedicated to protecting, you guessed it: gibbons.

And what is a gibbon?

Gibbons are small arboreal apes that hail from Southeast Asia. They are among the rarest of the Earth’s primates, and are renowned for their climbing ability as well as their morning song.

Indeed, upon visiting the center last weekend, visitors were greeted by this daily ritual shortly after arriving.

At a certain point each morning, as part of a territorial display, the gibbons of the Gibbon Center begin to loudly and wildly hoot, bark, and vocalize while swiftly swinging around their enclosures.

The entire song begins suddenly, building to a furious crescendo until dropping off as quickly as it came.

According to long running Director Gabriella Skollar, the song of the gibbons is but one of many rewards to be gained from working at the center.

Skollar is a small, thin woman with glasses who brings to mind a warm, loving aunt.

When she speaks of how rewarding it is to work with gibbons, her face lights up with passion.

“Still, there are many difficulties in working with the center. It is difficult to manage this place, and ensure there is enough funding to feed the gibbons.” Skollar said.

Despite these hardships, Skollar insists the work of the center is vital to help educate people about gibbons, in the hope it inspires them to take action to prevent their extinction.

“We plan to create more after school programs and field trips, in the hopes it will spread more awareness about the gibbons and the Center.” Skollar said.

The Gibbon Center is open every weekend from 10 am to Noon for public tours, with private tours available for scheduling during the week. If you would like to find out about volunteering or donating to the Gibbon Center, visit http://www.gibboncenter.org/index.php/how-can-you-help.