A rare orange monkey infant has survived the first weeks of life thanks to Taronga keepers who are continuing to care for it round the clock behind the scenes.
The female Francois’ Leaf-monkey, called ‘Nuoc’ or ‘water’ in Vietnamese, was born on 3 March, but had to be reared by keepers, 12 days after birth, when its mother, ‘Saigon’ did not produce enough milk.
Primate Keeper, Jane Marshall, said: "The name was chosen to reflect the langurs’ Vietnamese origin and because of the heavy rain on the morning Nuoc was born.
"It’s almost impossible to hand-rear a primate and then reintroduce to its family, so this wasn’t something we took on lightly."
"Because Francois Leaf-monkeys are in danger of becoming extinct, we had to try everything to give the infant the best shot at life, so for the past three months, we’ve been staying overnight, bottle feeding the infant in front of its parents, siblings and aunt so the family still had a strong connection to the newborn".
Once healthy enough, keepers slowly started the difficult reintroduction process.
"We started with giving the infant and family contact with each other through the mesh of the exhibit and then progressed to play dates with the two male juveniles, ‘Keo-co’ and ‘Tam Dao’," said Jane.
"We always knew it would be a challenge to integrate Nuoc back into her group. Not only have we succeeded, we’re actually quite a few months ahead of our planned schedule. Even more importantly, it’s like she never left!"
Such is the skill of Taronga’s primate keepers, the adult female langurs have been trained to bring the infant over to the mesh of the exhibit so she can feed independently from a bottle the keepers have rigged up.
Francois Leaf-monkeys are one of the rarest primates with as few as 500 remaining in the wild. Taronga is the only Zoo in Australasia breeding this vulnerable animal to help safeguard them against extinction.