The Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo announced an online auction to name one of its most popular animals, a one-year-old baby white-handed gibbon. All proceeds from the auction will help fund animal care at the zoo.
The auction started Aug. 24 in honor of the gibbon’s birthday, and it will end Sept. 10. The bidding started at $250 and will increase in $5 increments.
The highest bidder will win the ability to submit name recommendations and a gift package from the zoo, which will include tickets to the zoo, a gibbon painting and an item from the zoo’s gift shop.
Funds from the auction will help pay for feeding, which costs $2,000 per year, veterinary care from the UF College of Veterinary Medicine, which costs about $2,500, and about $1,500 for usual maintenance and environment enrichment.
“We feed them the same grade food that we would feed ourselves, restaurant-quality food,” Jade Salamone, conservation and education coordinator at the Santa Fe Teaching Zoo, said.
The 10-acre zoo is located on Santa Fe’s campus, and it is home to 70 different animal species. It is maintained entirely by students in the zoo animal technology program, Salamone said.
The zoo doesn’t hire zookeepers, and it serves as a learning lab for students to gain practical experience, Salamone said.
Because they are an endangered species, gibbons offer students an opportunity to work with unusual animals while giving visitors a chance to learn about them.
“They’re just a really special animal because we get to teach people about the types of habitats that we create to try to recreate their native range, so they can really see all those amazing natural behaviors that they do,” Salamone said.
Salamone said the baby gibbon is a particularly special draw for both students and visitors.
“He’s really, really inquisitive and very curious. He’s always investigating a lot of things. He’s definitely still attached to his mom, but he’s getting really, really independent,” Salamone said.
Taking care of gibbons is expensive, but rewarding, Salamone said.
The proceeds from the online auction will also help fund the education of Santa Fe students in the zoo animal technology program.
“Being active participants in these kinds of things really makes a big difference, not only for our animals but also for our zookeepers that are creating lifelong memories and building a career here,” Salamone said.
Brittany Lee, 39-year-old vice president and farm manager of Florida Blue Farms, said her family participated in the online auction.
“I think it’s a hidden treasure of Gainesville, honestly, and as a family we really enjoy going there,” she said.
Lee said her 4-year-old son Jeb loves watching the gibbons and has been coming up with names in case they win. His current favorite is Gibby, she said.
“We took part in the auction because we want to support the zoo, we want to support the zoo efforts, and it’s something that my kids and my family love to go do regularly,” Lee said.
Contact Eve Thompson at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @evealanaa.
Eve Thompson is a third-year journalism major covering Santa Fe. In the past, Eve was a News Assistant on the university desk. When she’s not submitting public records requests or staring at a blank Google doc, Eve can be found on a boat, usually listening to 70s music.