Joe Bonaccorsi, Class of 2003

                               Joe Bonaccorsi
                               William Tennent Class of 2003
                              Volunteer at Gibbon Conservation Center in Santa Clarita, CA


What organization do you volunteer for and what is it about?

 I am interested in sharing my current volunteer experience with the Gibbon Conservation Center in Santa Clarita, CA which I have been a volunteer for approximately 1.5 years.  The Gibbon Conservation Center’s mission is “To promote the conservation, study and care of gibbons through public education and habitat preservation.”  The Gibbon Center currently houses 43 gibbons (small apes native to southeast Asia), consisting of five species (all on the endangered species list) covering all four genera (only institution in the world which can say this). The Gibbon Conservation Center was founded in 1976 by Alan Richard Mootnick and does the following to achieve their mission:  Provides observation and non-invasive research opportunities for students and scientists, Participates in all relevant Species Survival Plans (SSPs), Provides consulting services to zoos, museums, government agencies such as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and individual scientists on species identification and gibbons care.  Assist with gibbon rescue programs in Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam and Indonesia.

What do you enjoy most about this volunteer position?

I received my BA from Rutgers University in 2008 in Biological Science with minors in Chemistry and Anthropology.  During my time at Rutgers, I became passionate about non-human primate behavior during a study abroad program to Kenya geared around Primatology, Ecology and Conservation, so what I enjoy most about my volunteer position is the gibbons.  I love getting to watch them interact while being a caregiver and seeing their different personalities and human like mannerisms.

Share a positive experience you have had with this volunteer job.

The most memorable experience I have from the Gibbon Conservation Center is being able to hand feed a baby Eastern Hoolock gibbon.  Hand raising/feeding is not common practice at the Gibbon Center, but his mother was not producing enough milk for the infant (named Elwood) to survive, so he was hand raised by the center until he reached six months of age when he was permanently placed back with his family.