Skywalker Hoolock Gibbon

East Asia


Hoolock tianxing


  • Deforestation
  • Hunting

The Skywalker Hoolock Gibbon, a primate from the Hylobatidae family, is endemic to China. The scientists who gave its description for the American Journal of Primatology in January 2017 were fans of the Star Wars franchise and so named it after Luke Skywalker. It is one of the only three species from the Hoolock species, the second largest gibbons after the Siamang Gibbon.

Its specific name Tian Xing is Chinese for ‘heaven’ and ‘movement’, respectively. It was a reference to brachiation or its main locomotive mode which is made possible by its long arms. Like the other gibbons, it is also diurnal and arboreal with its diet consisting mainly of fruits, insects and leaves. It is monogamous by nature and establishes territories with its partner.

Forest fragmentation and continued poaching are the two main reasons for its possible extinction in the wild. It needs greater forest cover in order to get its daily food and protect itself from predators. Without suitable habitats, it is vulnerable to hunters who sell it to pet trades. A single captured adult can totally derail the breeding cycle of an entire social unit for years.