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Two endangered Francois’ langur monkeys born at Belfast Zoo

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One of the new born monkeys at Belfast Zoo

One of the new born monkeys at Belfast Zoo

One of the new born monkeys with mum and dad

One of the new born monkeys with mum and dad

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One of the new born monkeys at Belfast Zoo

Two new Francois' langur monkeys have been born just over a month apart at Belfast Zoo.

The first of the new arrivals was spotted by keepers on March 2 to mother Chua and the second endangered new born arrived on April 18 to mother Nicolene.

It is a busy time for male AJ who is father to both the new infants and the babies will join big sister Hongxin who was born last May.

Hongxin was hand-raised by a zookeeper last year and has now been fully reintroduced back into the family unit, according to Belfast Zoo.

Francois langurs are known for their distinctive black fur with white streaks of hair running from their mouths to their ears.

They also have a tuft of hair on top of their head. However, infants are born with orange fur which gradually changes to adult colouration as they mature.

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The births are good news more generally given there are only an estimated 2,000 of the species left in the wild.

Belfast Zoo manager Andrew Hope is in charge of looking after the breeding programme for the monkeys and is also responsible for co-ordinating the genetic and reproductive management of the captive population.

"The arrival of three Francois langurs over the past year is fantastic news,” he said.

“It is always a great cause for celebration when a langur is born as there is reason to believe their population has declined as much as 50 percent in the past three generations.

“With an estimated population of less than 2000 left in the wild, this species is in trouble. The biggest threats are poaching and habitat loss.”

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One of the new born monkeys with mum and dad

One of the new born monkeys with mum and dad

One of the new born monkeys with mum and dad

Belfast is something of a home to the species though, with 20 infants born here since 1994.

“Successful breeding within zoos is essential as it raises hope for this highly endangered species native to Vietnam and China,” Mr Hope added.

“Recent research indicates that the European population is potentially even more genetically diverse than many of the isolated wild populations.

“It is hoped that the captive population could be used to improve the genetic diversity of some isolated wild populations in the future.

“Genetically diverse captive populations are therefore extremely significant for the potential long-term survival of this species in the wild.”

Earlier this month the zoo also announced the arrival of two critically endangered Eastern bongos.

It was also revealed the zoo’s two Asian elephants Dhunja and Yhetto are set to be rehomed at a new facility.


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