Please allow me to share with you a love story that has unfolded at your zoo over the past year — the story of Abe and Fatima.
Abe, our male siamang ape, is a longtime zoo resident who turns 40 on February 12. He was in need of a companion after his mate of 10 years passed away.
If we were to write an online dating profile for Abe, it would read something like: Ruggedly handsome, distinguished male siamang, 39, seeks female counterpart to share Primate Park. Active, extroverted, engaging. Likes babies, rope swings, sun-bathing, painting, eating oranges, singing duets. Dislikes difficult puzzles, wet feet. Prefers outgoing, playful type for friendship, grooming, camaraderie.
In his 32 years in Syracuse, Abe fathered and raised four babies and outlived two mates. He has won thousands of hearts with his spirited personality, great love for babies – human and siamang – and boisterous vocalizations that bring zoo-goers running toward Primate Park to see him put on a show.
But in recent years, Abe found himself single – not a natural condition for siamangs. The largest of the lesser apes, siamangs are social animals that mate for life. If one of a pair dies, the survivor will seek another love interest. That’s why our animal care staff were on a mission to find a match for Abe.
As an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), our zoo participates in Species Survival Plans for many endangered species – including siamangs. We asked the siamang SSP to find a female for Abe.
If we imagined his perfect match, her profile might read: Petite, attractive female siamang seeks mature male companion to share golden years. Laid-back, easygoing, great hair. Enjoys climbing, grooming, hugs, dried fruit, toys, singing duets. Dislikes puddles, wet feet. Prefers affectionate, fun-loving type for company, perhaps romance?
Fatima, 34, fit this description exactly, but she lived 2,000 miles away at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. Luckily, the SSP located her in their database and recommended pairing her with Abe.
After Fatima arrived in late 2017, our staff started introductions. At first, Abe tried to get a reaction by beating against the mesh barrier between them – but she was unfazed. By Day 2, they clearly wanted to meet. Soon they were grooming each other through the mesh. I am happy to say they have been a couple ever since. Now they are never more than a few yards apart.
I see their story as one example of many such love stories at the zoo, stories that show how invested our staff is in the health, welfare and, yes, happiness of every single animal in our care.
Your contributions enable us to treat each animal here as an individual personality, a life, a soul. If you would like to support our efforts, you can do so HERE.
Janet Agostini President + CEO Friends of the Zoo