Gulliver, an elderly white-handed gibbon who lived his entire life at the Santa Barbara Zoo, passed away July 19, after a brief illness. He would have turned 40 years old next week, on July 28.

“Gulliver has been a part of the Santa Barbara Zoo family for nearly four decades,” said Zoo Director Nancy McToldridge. “I have known and loved him for 34 of those years. During his life, Gulliver inspired millions of people to care about wild creatures in wild places. It is always hard to lose any animal, especially for the people who care for them on a daily basis. He will be missed.”

Gulliver was born at the Zoo on July 28, 1976 to parents Charlie and Goldie. His longtime mate, Jasmine, arrived at the Zoo in October 1979 and the two produced five offspring, starting in 1987. Two are still living: Riley, born in 2000, currently at the Indianapolis Zoo; and Elliot, born in 2002, who is at the Hogle Zoo (Salt Lake City). The pair has many grandchildren, and have five great- grandchildren.

“At age 40, Gulliver was definitely a senior citizen, but he remained healthy and active until the end, and delighted our guests,” added McToldridge.

Gulliver and Jasmine lived on Gibbon Island, adjacent to the Andree Clark Bird Refuge, and were popular among Zoo guests for their arboreal aeronautics, often swinging on ropes and climbing trees. Their loud “whooping” calls could be heard throughout the Zoo. Gulliver had dark fur, and Jasmine’s is tan, but fur color in gibbons is determined by genetics and not an animal’s sex. They have been admired by children and folks of all ages in the Santa Ynez Valley who frequent the zoo for school field trips and family outings, as well as other Santa Barbara County residents and tourists.

Jasmine remains on exhibit at the Zoo, and her future plans depend on the needs of Species Survival Plan (SSP) for white-handed gibbons. Zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) manage species collaboratively, and many factors are taken into account in determining placement of individual animals.

In 2015, Gulliver and Jasmine selected the ingredients to be used in the signature beers for the Zoo’s popular benefit, Zoo Brew ( The resulting Jasmine’s Dry Wit and Gulliver’s Coconut Porter were especially brewed by Pete Johnson at The Brewhouse and enjoyed by hundreds of event attendees on June 6, 2015.

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