The zoo has not yet determined 1½-year-old gibbon Leilani’s cause of death 

Leilani, a one-and-a-half-year-old white-cheeked gibbon
Credit: Kansas City Zoo

The Kansas City Zoo is mourning the loss of a baby gibbon. 

On Friday, a 1½-year-old gibbon named Leilani was found "in distress" in a pool in her habitat, the zoo confirmed in a statement shared on social media. 

"The Zoo is mourning the unexpected loss of Leilani, a one-and-a-half-year-old white-cheeked gibbon born on February 15, 2020, in the Tropics habitat at the Kansas City Zoo," the statement began. "Dad Smithers (25) and mom Kit (16) were devoted parents who had taken wonderful care of their firstborn youngster." 

It went on to explain that a staff person was alerted that Leilani "appeared to be in distress" in her pool around 1:45 p.m. on Friday and it was later determined that the small ape had died. 

"Our animal care specialists and veterinary team responded immediately to Tropics," the statement read. "Although CPR was administered, Leilani was determined to be deceased." 

The zoo said that they were not able to immediately determine Leilani's cause of death, but a necropsy will be performed. 

"Our gibbon family had been behaving normally prior to this event and we do not know how Leilani came to be in the pool of her exhibit," the zoo shared. "No external trauma was immediately visible and the small-clawed otter family that shares the exhibit was sleeping peacefully. A necropsy is being performed to determine cause of death." 

The statement continued, "Understandably, our staff are extraordinarily saddened by this tragic loss, particularly those who care for the gibbons daily. Please keep all of the Zoo family in your thoughts during this difficult time." 

The Kansas City Zoo welcomed Leilani last February, sharing several sweet photos of her with her mother on Instagram in the weeks following her birth. Their species, the white-cheeked gibbon, is a "critically endangered" species the zoo shared when announcing her birth. 

Several months later, the baby gibbon was given her name. 

"Meet Leilani! Our gibbon infant has a name and it's Leilani!" the Kansas City Zoo wrote alongside a photo of the young animal in April 2020.