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Taronga Zoo staff are celebrating the birth of a bright orange, endangered Francois Langur, the first to be raised by its mother in Australia.

The male infant, named ‘Gan Ju’ meaning orange in Mandarin was born to mother, ‘Saigon’, and father, ‘Hanoi’ and discovered in the early morning of Thursday 22 April by the Zoo’s dedicated keeping staff who had been monitoring the pregnancy.

The NSW Environment Minister, Frank Sartor, said: “The birth of any endangered animal is always a cause for celebration, but this birth at Taronga  is particularly significant.  Gan Ju is the first male Francois Langur, or Leaf-Eating Monkey, to be born in Australia and importantly, the first to be raised by its mother.”

“The birth could not have come at a better time with researchers shocked by a recent census which revealed that despite once being wide-spread throughout Vietnam and China, there may be as few as 1000 Francois Langurs in the wild due to loss of habitat and poaching."

Saigon’s previous offspring, a female, ‘Elke’, was born in early 2009, but as is common with first-time mothers, Saigon seemed confused by the infant’s arrival and the Leaf-eating monkey had to be hand-raised by Taronga staff who tended to the baby 24 hours a day for many months.

Taronga Zoo’s Supervisor of Asian Primates, Melissa Shipway, said: “With this new arrival, it was such a relief to discover the little orange bundle cradled in Saigon’s arms. The baby had been licked clean by its mother, was warm, dry and very alert. It appears that second time round, Saigon understood what the orange coloured thing was and her mothering instincts kicked in. When we stepped in as surrogate parents for her last infant, we fed and cared for the baby in front of Saigon, in the hope that it would help her with future newborns.”

“Within the first day of life, Saigon had the baby suckling, ensuring it got vital nutrients from her milk. Gan Ju could suckle for years, but he has already started reaching out and playing with Saigon’s food leaves, this is an encouraging sign for the future,” said Melissa.

‘Hanoi’ is also proving to be a typical father. As is the norm, Hanoi tends to keep a respectful distance from the new arrival, preferring to keep a protective watch over his family. Typically males play little role in raising the young other than keeping a watchful eye out for their brood.

“There is a very real risk of extinction for this species, so every birth is vital to ensure these remarkable leaf eating primates are not lost forever,” said Melissa.

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