Two Francois’ langur monkeys have been born within weeks of each other at Belfast Zoo. The first newborn arrived on Wednesday, March 2, to mother Chua with the second one appearing on Monday, April 18, to mother Nicolene. Male AJ is the father to both infants.
The brightly coloured infants join big sister Hongxin, also affectionately known as “wee red”, who was born last May.
Hongxin was hand-raised by a zookeeper last year and has now been fully reintroduced back into the family unit.
Zoo manager Andrew Hope is the studbook keeper for the François’ langur breeding programme.
He is responsible for co-ordinating the genetic and reproductive management of this captive population, which are currently living in nine zoos across Europe.
Andrew said: “The arrival of three Francois langurs over the past year is fantastic news.
“It is always a great cause for celebration when a langur is born as there is reason to believe their population has declined as much as 50 per cent in the past three generations.
“With an estimated population of less than 2,000 left in the wild, this species is in trouble. The biggest threats are poaching and habitat loss.”
The zoo has celebrated the birth of this rare species many times before and has been incredibly successful at breeding this endangered primate with over 20 infants born since it become home to them in 1994.
Andrew explained: “Successful breeding within zoos is essential as it raises hope for this highly endangered species native to Vietnam and China.
“Recent research indicates that the European population is potentially even more genetically diverse than many of the isolated wild populations.
“It is hoped that the captive population could be used to improve the genetic diversity of some isolated wild populations in the future.
“Genetically diversity in captive populations are therefore extremely significant for the potential long-term survival of this species in the wild.”
Francois langurs have black fur with white streaks of hair running from their mouths to their ears. They also have a tuft of hair on top of their head.
However, infants are born with orange fur which gradually changes to adult colouration as they mature.
n Zoo is open every day, 10am-6pm, with last admission at 4.30pm.
n Tickets can be purchased on www.belfastzoo.co.uk
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