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Her sad eyes speak more than words……

Let us introduce you to ‘Jub Jib’ the 15 year-old white-handed gibbon (Hylobates lar) who arrived at the WFFT Wildlife Rescue Centre yesterday. Just over 15 years ago Jub Jib was living with her family high in the tree canopy in Thailand’s biggest national park, Kaeng Krachan, which is part of one the biggest intact stretches of tropical evergreen forest in mainland Southeast Asia. This area creates a natural border between Thailand and Myanmar. We are told that during a battle between armed forces from Thailand and Burma her mother was shot and killed while Jub Jib was clinging onto her. Her mother fell to the ground, likely from a height 100’s of feet, as she hit the ground Jub Jib was badly injured, the impact of the fall resulted in severe head injuries, it was later found that as a result of these injuries that she suffered from epilepsy. She was handed over to a man and lady who had previously had a pet gibbon that had died, as they were deemed as suitable carers for her. Jub Jib then spent the next 15 years kept inside a house, being treated like human baby, fed human foods and was forced to wear diapers 24 hours a day to prevent from making a ‘mess’ in the house.
When she arrived at WFFT yesterday we saw an emaciated sad little soul, in a rather dazed state. The alarm bells started to ring as her owners said they had given her some ‘off the market’ strong sleeping tablets to help her relax for the journey to WFFT. They then informed us that once the side effects from this drug had worn off, she would seem like a ‘normal gibbon’, climbing and walking around. This could not be further from the truth on day 2 of her being with us, this morning we took her out of her enclosure at the WFFT Hospital to assess her a little more and what we discovered was shocking. She moved out of the cage like an old geriatric lady, a gibbon of 15 years should be in her prime, strong, confident and happy, not looking like she is at deaths door. She was scared of the substrate in the WFFT Hospital area, walking on grass or gravel terrified her, however she was comfortable walking on concrete. Anything she saw that was green she tried to eat, even grazing grass from the floor, it is likely that this is first time she had walked on natural substrate in years, and the first time she had felt the natural sunlight on her skin.
This to be one of the most harrowing cases of animal cruelty inflicted by the misjudgment of someone who claimed to love this gibbon, they were slowly killing her. Over the years her owners treated her epilepsy with the human anti-depressant medication, amitriptyline hydrochloride, confusion and nausea are some of many common side effects from taking this drug. We would assume that she is currently addicted to the drug as she has been fed it for years, taking her off them right away may lead to some more severe problems, so this will be done gradually, controlled by the WFFT Vet Team, she is basically a drug addict, not from her own choice. Severely malnourished due to bad diet and lack of exercise and sunlight, she is unable to properly grasp with her hands and will have to be hand fed until she regains some strength.

Thankfully some of the family members no longer wanted the gibbon in the house so she needed a new home, she was then brought to WFFT for lifelong sanctuary. Who knows, in the future she may regain enough strength and confidence to be able to go with her own species. For now, she is under the intensive care of the WFFT Vet Team, this will be for at least a few months, if not for life, as we try to teach her how to be gibbon again. However, we do worry that the years she has spent locked inside has caused irreparable damage to her physical and mental well being, her bones are thin and stiff, she cannot climb and can barely walk, her fingers are misshapen and her soul is broken. We are yet to hear her sing, but as she starts to see and hear the other gibbons at WFFT we hope she will regain her voice after being mute for over a decade. It will be long road to recovery for this one, but the team at WFFT will make sure that we do everything we can to give this very special soul a second chance at life.

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