Momo has her enclosure all to herself, or at least she did until she suddenly had a kid.

On the morning of February 10, an employee of Mori Kirara, a zoo and botanical garden in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, was checking on the park’s lar gibbon apes and noticed one of them was cuddling her newborn baby.

That was odd. Not because gibbons aren’t affectionate parents, though, and not because the mother, a 10-year-old female named Momo, isn’t known for gentle behavior. No, what made the scene strange is that Momo lives in her enclosure all by herself.

▼ Momo and her baby

The gestation period for lar gibbons is about seven months, and during that time Momo hadn’t had any sort of breeding sessions or any other activities where she shared her space with any male apes, nor had her stomach grown large enough to visibly suggest she was pregnant. Because of that, the director of the zoo, Chikako Iwaoka, initially thought she’d misheard the report when the employee who discovered the baby told her what happened. Baby primates don’t grow on trees, though, nor do they get delivered by storks like in the opening scene of Dumbo, so the zoo began looking into how this could have happened, and they’ve got a theory.

Though Momo lives by herself (or did, before the arrival of her mystery baby), her enclosure is part of a structure with three others connected to it. Two of the enclosures contain one male lar gibbon each, and one of them contains three. There are metal grates in place between the enclosures to keep the animals out of physical contact with one another, but an inspection following the birth revealed a small hole, roughly three centimeters (1.2 inches) in length had been torn in one of the grates, as shown at the point the video below is queued to, and the zookeepers suspect that it was through this opening that Momo “encountered” the baby’s father.

▼ It aint how big it is, it’s what you do with it.

The zoo is currently conducting paternity tests, and expects that one of Momo’s five male neighbors will turn out to be the stealthy daddy. In the meantime, they’re considering installing sturdier, solid partitions between Momo’s enclosure and the males’, to make sure that love doesn’t once again unexpectedly find a way.

Sources: Mainichi Simbun via Itai News, Yahoo! Japan News/Nitele News 24
Top image: Pakutaso
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