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Francois Langur Surprise for Taronga

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Keepers' hopes that the Zoo's critically endangered Francois Langur female was pregnant were confirmed last Thursday when a bright orange female infant was found in the exhibit.

The Zoo's General Manager, Life Sciences, Cameron Kerr, said: "This is outstanding news for species, although the mother, Saigon, has not accepted the baby. Taronga is the only zoo in Australasia caring for Francois Langurs."

"As a first-time mother, Saigon's reaction to the infant is not uncommon, but Taronga's keepers were prepared and are managing the difficult process of hand-raising the young langur to maintain an insurance population in world zoos as the species faces the real risk of extinction in the wild."

"There are no guarantees that the hand-raising efforts will succeed but we have to try.  Researchers were shocked by a new census which revealed that despite being wide-spread through Vietnam and China, there may be as few as 1000 Francois Langurs left in the wild."

"The keepers have named the youngster 'Elke' after an Endangered Primate Rescue Centre superviser at Cuc Phuong National Park in Vietnam, where three of the Zoo's highly experienced primate keepers have worked with langurs as part of Taronga's in situ support program there. They are working round the clock with the young female."

"Naturally, the youngster will not be visible to the public for some time, possibly months. Everyone here has their fingers crossed for success."

Because these leaf-eating monkeys are very rare and under great pressure from habitat loss and poachers, keepers immediately began hand-raising the infant incorporating information from Cuc Phuong staff and other world zoos .

Although the parents are jet black, the infants initially have bright orange-coloured fur, which helps their parents identify them in the dim light of their forest habitat. The Zoo's langur programs are sponsored by retailer Bing Lee.

The Francois Langurs' exhibit is in Taronga's Wild Asia exhibit which represents the diversity in Asia's rainforests, which are also endangered by human activities, including logging and fuel oil plantations, such as Palm Oil.

Taronga's keepers will spend many months raising the youngster while preparing for its re-introduction to its parents. These remarkable dark-haired primates are quite unusual eating only certain varieties of leaves.  Francois Langurs inhabit tall riverside limestone crags in tropical monsoon forests.

For more information contact Media Relations:

Ph: +61 2 9978 4606
Fax: +61 2 9978 4511
Email: tzpr@zoo.nsw.gov.au

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