San Diego Zoo

Endangered orange baby monkey, François' langur, born at San Diego Zoo

The birth of this baby marks a critical new member of the dwindling species population, the zoo says

NBC Universal, Inc.

A bright orange, endangered baby monkey was born in April at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, making this the zoo's first François' langur birth in five years.

The orange baby was born to the black-furred 11-year-old Meili, whose first child, Chi, is now 7 and lives in a separate habitat with another young langur.

François' langurs are known for giving birth to bright orange babies that darken to black as they get older. They are native to southwestern China and northeastern Vietnam and with just over 2,000 monkeys left, they are listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species due to hunting, habitat loss and agricultural expansion, all of which have reduced their population by over 50% during the last four decades.

The birth of this baby marks a critical new member of the dwindling species population, the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance says.

At this time, the baby has not yet been named.

The mother and baby are in good health and the Wildlife Care staff credits this to Meili's gentle nature.

"We are always thrilled when a birth goes smoothly and results in a healthy infant," said Joe Milo, senior wildlife care specialist at the San Diego Zoo. "This time, our established trust with Meili allowed us to perform abdominal ultrasounds, confirming and monitoring her pregnancy. She has become the first monkey at our zoo trained for ultrasound, which is a significant achievement."

The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance plays a role in the conservation of animal species locally and globally. The Alliance collaborates worldwide to protect indigenous wildlife and ecosystems through eight Conservation Hubs, including the Asian Rainforest Hub, which covers the langurs' native range.

The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance was the first facility in the Western Hemisphere to introduce the François' langurs in 1980.

Langurs can now count themselves as part of an Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan that manages their genetic diversity through strategic breeding, which helps to establish a healthy François' langur population in USA zoos.

"Our new infant increases the total to 71 animals at 16 accredited Association of Zoos and Aquariums [institutions] nationwide. Given their low population numbers, this birth is crucial for the species' survival, both in human care and globally," added Milo.

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