Jari, the Santa Barbara Zoo’s 5½-year-old white-handed gibbon, died Thursday morning after becoming tangled in a net, zoo officials announced.
“It appears that Jari’s head became tangled in a net that was in the exhibit for enrichment, and she was not breathing when her keeper got to her,” said Dr. Julie Barnes, vice president of animal care and health. “This happened shortly after Jari went out on exhibit this morning. I was on the scene within minutes of her being found by her keeper. We rushed Jari to the Animal Hospital and attempted to revive her, but we were unsuccessful.”
The type of net is a common enrichment tool for primates who climb, zoo officials said. It had been in Jari’s exhibit for “several months.” “We assess the potential safety risks of everything we put in our animals’ exhibits, but there was no way to anticipate this,” said Barnes. “It appears to have been a very unfortunate accident.” The incident will be reported to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees licensed exhibitors that hold animals, and to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), Barnes said.
Jari (pronounced JAR-e) came to the zoo in January 2017 and joined its 41-year-old female gibbon, Jasmine, who lost her longtime mate in July 2016. Jasmine was fostering Jari, zoo officials said, as white-handed gibbons typically stay with their mothers for five to six years and the young Jari needed a “mother figure.”
“Jasmine remains at the zoo and we will be talking to the AZA in coming days about finding a suitable companion for her,” said Barnes. “But for now, we are mourning Jari.”