Belfast Zoo celebrated the birth of a François langur in late 2017, and the little ‘rascal’ has made his first appearance for visitors.t

This endangered primate was born on 7 November 2017 to mum, Nicoleen and dad, AJ.  While adult François langurs are black in colour with striking white sideburns, infants are born with ginger fur and their colour changes slowly as they mature. The latest arrival has been named Huaidan, which means ‘rascal’ in Chinese, thanks to his cheeky temperament!

Huaidan’s arrival means that Belfast Zoo’s monkey house is now home to five of these stunning leaf-eating primates.  François langurs live in small family groups consisting of one adult male, a ‘harem’ of adult females and their offspring. All females in the group take an active interest in the care of the infant and the females in the group often ‘babysit’ Huaidan to allow Nicoleen to rest and eat.

Andrew Hope, Curator at Belfast Zoo, said “François’ langurs are found in the tropical forests and limestone hills of China, Vietnam and Laos but they are facing increasing threats and are endangered in their natural habitat.  This is primarily due to habitat loss, hunting, the traditional medicine trade and the pet trade.  Recent research has highlighted startling and troubling trends and suggests that the population of this species in the wild has declined by at least 50%, over the past 36 year. In 2003, it was estimated that there were less than 500 of these langurs in Vietnam and only 1,400 in China and populations are continuing to decline.”

Andrew continues “With the future of this primate hanging in the balance, zoos around the world are working collaboratively to ensure the survival of the Francois langur, through an active breeding programme.  I am responsible for co-ordinating the genetic and reproductive management of this captive population, which are living in seven European zoos.  The arrival of Huadian is therefore not only a great cause for celebration for Belfast Zoo but also on a much larger scale.  Belfast Zoo has been home to this stunning and threatened species since 1994 with more than 20 births since then.  We also support the Guanxi François langur conservation action plan which works tirelessly to halt the declining trends, along with reducing threats and building strong local, national and international support.”

Swing by with your ‘little monkeys’ to visit Huaidan and his family in Belfast Zoo’s monkey house.  The zoo is open daily from 10am, last admission is at 2.30pm, animal houses close at 3.30pm and the zoo closes at 4pm

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