The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is pleased to announce the first birth of an endangered Francois langur at the Zoo. Born to mother Pam and father Ripley on Sunday, January 28 at the langur habitat in Sanctuary Asia, the infant langur is welcome news for conservationists. The sex of the infant langur has not been determined, therefore it has not yet been named.

The species is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, which notes the mature Francois langurs’ wild population is between 2,000 and 2,100, down nearly 50 percent over the last 36 years.

“Pam and Ripley came to OKC in 2021 with a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan®. We have been working on maternal training with Pam since we knew she was a first-time mom,” said OKC Zoo’s Assistant Curator of Primates, Pace Frank. “Our team came in Sunday morning to find Pam holding the baby and being very attentive.”

 Hunting and habitat destruction are the major threats to Francois langurs, she said. The small monkeys are mostly folivorous, meaning their diet is made up of mostly leaves.

“Caretakers need to cut a lot of browse and provide leaves year-round for the majority of their diet,” Frank said. “The Zoo's partnership with OG&E has helped supply leaves for the langurs throughout the spring and summer. Primate caretakers even trim and freeze leaves so the langurs have them throughout the winter.” 

Francois langurs weigh around 13 pounds and are found in Southeast Asia, primarily in the forests of China and Vietnam. They are also known as Francois leaf monkeys because their diet primarily consists of leaves with a mix of fruits, seeds, and roots.

Francois langurs have fine black fur with a white band stretching from the mouth over the cheeks to the ears. Their prominent brow ridge resembles raised eyebrows, which makes them look perpetually surprised.

By contrast, newborns have bright reddish-orange fur, but it quickly changes to black by the end of their first year.

“The color is to help the baby stick out and be easily seen by the adults,” Frank said. “Our baby has a bright orange head and its body is covered in black fur.”

The langurs are named for Auguste François, the French Consul at Lungchow in southern China, who observed groups of the animals living on rocky shores between Nanning and Kuohua, China.

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