They’re wild, endangered, loud, feisty, adorable, and walk on two feet. Nope, this time we’re not talking about kids! Tucked secretly away in a rural area of Santa Clarita, The Gibbon Conservation Center raises and protects five breeds of the rarest (and cutest) apes in the Western Hemisphere. And you and your own little monkeys are welcome to visit.
This little haven for lesser apes invites the public in every weekend, where you can take a self guided tour (wander on your own) or take a tour with the caretakers. We’d highly recommend this option, as the caretakers are incredibly knowledgeable, not only about the species but of the personal stories of the apes growing up there. Their names, their families, their histories, and even the games they like to play. Your kids will be fascinated to see how much like us these magnificent animals are. You will too – did you know that gibbons are the only species that, like humans (the pre-kid ones), have sex for pleasure as well as procreation?
Toward the end of the tour, the caretaker will start the apes singing, and you won’t want to miss their incredible concert! Why do they sing, you ask? It’s how they mark their territories. Grown males and females sing a duet, and their babies often join in on the family band. Their voices sound like cat-calling or the hooting and hollering heard while tailgating a UCLA vs USC football game. You will feel like you’re standing in the middle of a jungle.
Since the conservatory is focused on ape education, the center is ideal for kids 5 and up, though younger kids are also welcome. Kids of all ages love to see the babies getting fed their veggies from mommies and daddies, watch the apes fly like acrobats between trees, and hear their boisterous songs.
It’s not a large facility, so you can spend some time observing and getting to know each of the Gibbon breeds and families who all have their own personalities. You can expect to spend one to two hours here if you bring a packed lunch.
What to Know Before You Go
The Gibbon Conservation Center is open to the public every Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to noon, with a guided tour at 10 a.m. both days. The conservatory is closed on rainy days and major holidays. Admission is $5 for kids 6-12, $15 for adults and free for kids under 6.
Avoid the hottest summer days. It can get 10 – 20 degrees hotter out in Santa Clarita country than other parts of town. If you do go when it’s hot, bring a canopy for the stroller, wear sunscreen and a hat, and bring lots of water. You don’t want to have to bail out before the best part of the tour because you or your kids are feeling faint.
As you can see from the pictures above, there’s lots of dirt, so leave your Jimmy Choo’s at home. You’ll also need to dip the bottom of your shoes upon entrance to avoid bringing outside germs into the center.
Water bottles are available for purchase, there are portable bathrooms, a small area of shaded picnic tables and gorgeous vintage benches to rest on.
Gibbon Conservation Center
9100 Esguerra Road
Santa Clarita, Ca 91390
Photo credits: Shannon Guyton, Gibbon Conservation Center
What’s your favorite wildlife or conservation center in town? We’d love to learn! Let us know in the comment section.