Q: Do gibbons play with toys?
A: Some of them do (Whoop-Whoop likes to groom blankies and simple hand-puppets, Maynard sometimes swats around plastic balls), but most of them are more interested in wrestling, chasing, or playing with things like swinging ropes and tires. In addition, gibbons have rather specialized hands. Even though these little apes weigh about a tenth of what we do, their hands are as long as a human’s, but only half as wide, and their fingers have a slight but perpetual curve to them, like a hook. Their hands are wonderful for brachiating, but not so good for twiddling Rubik’s cubes—their fingers are just not as dexterous as ours. So when we give them puzzle feeders (tubes of plastic or bamboo, drilled with holes and filled with peanuts and raisins), we have to keep in mind what their fingers can and can’t do.
Questions kids ask when they tour the gibbon sanctuary at the International Primate Protection League.