San Diego/ Parks & Nature
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Published on May 18, 2024
Endangered François' Langur Monkey Born at San Diego Zoo Ushers in Hope for SpeciesSource: Menotlost, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It's a boy! Or rather, it's a bright orange baby François' langur monkey stealing hearts at the San Diego Zoo. The endangered primate's team rang in their first birth of this type in half a decade, an event that could signal a new leaf for the species' shaky future. Mama Meili, an 11-year-old François' langur, popped out the colorful kiddo on April 12, with the Zoo announcing the addition to their fuzzy family just yesterday. The newborn, still without a name, and his mother are said to be in fine fettle, and zookeepers are over the moon with the smooth delivery.

Zoo staff were on pins and needles for months, closely monitoring Meili, a pro in the motherhood department with a seven-year-old offspring to her name. In a statement obtained by the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, Joe Milo, the senior wildlife care specialist, chimed in, "We are always thrilled when a birth goes smoothly and results in a healthy infant." Harnessing their trust in Meili, they pulled off the zoo's first ultrasound on a monkey.

Nature aficionados will know the François' langur for its neonate's bright orange coat, which starkly contrasts with the species' typical black adult fur. These monkeys hail from southwestern China and northeastern Vietnam but are having a rough go at it lately, with their numbers in the wild dipping below 2,000. It's a grim picture—over the last 40 years, the François' langur population has dropped like a stone, over 50%. The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance is toeing the line against such a decline, leveraging its Conservation Hubs to lend a hand to these creatures and their forest homes.

An integral facet of the Zoo's conservation strategy is its collaboration with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan. They've been playing matchmaker and gene-pool guardian, shepherding the genetic diversity of the François' langurs. "Our new infant increases the total to 71 animals at 16 accredited Association of Zoos and Aquariums [institutions] nationwide," Milo stated. Each ginger-haired munchkin counts in the monumental labor to dodge the species' extinction date and secure its hold in captive environments.