Mia coy selecting gibbon mate

Four male gibbon monkeys are fighting for the heart of Mia, seen here, at International Primate Protection League in Summerville. So far Maynard is in the lead, "She can always change her mind." Says Tina McCoy. Lauren Prescott/Staff Friday, May 29, 2015.

SUMMERVILLE — Mia is having none of it — not the attention from Louie Louie and not the interest of her handlers to finally get this gibbon settled at the International Primate Protection League.

“She’s changed her mind,” Tina McCoy of the league said about the coy gibbon. “Louie is ignoring her. She’s ignoring Louie. She’s making eyes at Maynard.”

At stake is a visit to the league sanctuary for a contest winner who can guess the mate Mia selects.

Maynard is the “bad boy” of the four neutered males among whom Mia eventually will choose as her mate.

All gibbons love to snatch things when the unsuspecting get too close, but Maynard snatches things and immediately scoots off to hide them in his “dogloo” home. He was rescued along with a Capuchin monkey as “pets” kept in a crack house.

And like most bad boys, he is a charmer. “He’s really a very handsome gibbon,” league founder Shirley McGreal said earlier.

Gibbons are the long-armed, graceful acrobats of Asian primates, known for their reverberating, singsong whooping. They swing and somersault like trapeze artists and live mostly off the ground.

The league, which works with primate conservationists and sanctuaries in 31 countries, keeps 37 rescued and unreleasable gibbons in the sanctuary at its headquarters outside Summerville.

Gibbons mate for life, and the female does the picking. So when 23-year-old Mia arrived from Mississippi’s Jackson Zoo earlier this year, the league decided to make it a contest and asked people to vote on their choice.

The votes now are in, and a “drawn from the hat” winner gets the rare visit to the sanctuary, normally closed to the public. When Mia eventually picks, that is, so staff know which pile of votes to draw from.

Along with Maynard, there’s the playful Louie Louie that had her eye at first, toughie Gus and female-fawning Spanky.

So will it be Maynard? Maybe.

The gibbon shares the blond fur that the widowed Mia’s original mate had. And he’s sure giving her the eye. Staff has moved their enclosures to put them closer together, McCoy said.

“Hopefully this week we’ll know.”

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