The PECO Primate Reserve is where you will find most of the Philadelphia Zoo’s beloved primates. Here you’ll find ten species of primates including; gibbons, tamarins, gorillas, lemurs, and orangutans. Approaching the building you’ll pass a mini island of sorts where you’ll find the Buddhist-like ring-tailed lemurs sun worshiping amidst the trees.
Within the PECO Primate Reserve lies an exhibit shrouded in black drapes, black walls and near darkness. Venturing in you become a voyeur as you peak through various mid-sized windows onto one of the world’s most curious creatures, the aye-aye. Within their walls stand a large jungle-gym-like structure where they ran like master tight-rope walkers. The Philadelphia Zoo, one of only five facilities in the U.S. to house aye-ayes, celebrated a recent birth from their pair. Baby Smeagol was born in the summer of 2010.
Another baby could be seen just around the corner, this one much more recent. Born only 19 days before our visit was a precious white-handed gibbon, who clung to its mothers belly as she swung through her own jungle-gym. Gibbons are noted for being monogamous, attentive and protective parents and this pair wasn’t any different. The father watched from his perch as mom swung effortlessly with their baby hanging on, but would also go to her, groom her and seemingly peek under her arm at their beautiful baby. An amazing feature of the PECO building is the option to view the primates from ground floor or to walk up the stairs to take on a whole new perspective. It was from upstairs that I was able to get close to mother and baby as she perched beside me. With only glass separating us I watched the precious little one shift to feed while mom delicately groomed it’s sweet alien-like head.