Rare birth of endangered François langurs at Twycross Zoo
Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire celebrates the arrival of two endangered François langur babies born less than four weeks apart between October and November. The new-born monkeys, easily recognisable by their bright orange fur, are the 4th and 5th François langurs bred at Twycross Zoo. Including this pair, there were only six babies born in Europe in the last year.
The two new babies are from the same dad, Chow-chow, who arrived at Twycross Zoo from San Francisco Zoo in February this year, and mums Pak Choi and Lychee, who came to the zoo from zoos in China in 2009. Pak Choi and Lychee are both experienced mothers and share the caring responsibilities for infants, a practice called allomothering, as this species naturally does in the wild.
Each birth at Twycross Zoo is not only a joyous occasion for zoo staff and visitors, but also an important part of international captive breeding programmes which are designed to help ensure the future survival of endangered species. The zoo is recognised internationally as a specialist in primate conservation and has celebrated a number of primate births over this past year.
Several monkey species have seen new arrivals, including: De Brazza, red titi, emperor tamarin, pygmy marmoset, silvery marmoset, Lowe’s guenon, and L’Hoest monkey. The birth of a baby Diana monkey in April was the first birth for this species at the zoo in nearly 30 years.
Twycross Zoo is the only zoo in the UK, and one of only four worldwide, to house all four types of great ape (gorillas, orangutans, bonobos and chimpanzees). In February, the bonobo group welcomed a new baby boy, Móko, who was born to 10-year-old first-time mum Kianga.
The gorilla family at Twycross Zoo also grew this year, as experienced parents Ozala and Oumbi produced their third baby in September. The baby, yet to be named, is the sibling to young Lope, who will be 4 years old in January 2017.
The zoo also celebrates breeding successes with other species, for example the June birth of a pair Amur leopard sisters, whom the public voted to call Samara and Kira. They are the second pair of cubs for mother Kirsten and father Davidoff and bring hope for the survival of this rare species on the brink of extinction in the wild.
Dr Charlotte Macdonald, Director of Life Sciences at Twycross Zoo said: "Zoos are a fun and interesting place to visit, but they also play an important conservation role and every baby born here at Twycross Zoo is significant. New-born animals are adorable, and it is delightful to watch them as they grow up. Some of them, such as our Amur cubs, will one day have their own young, which will help save species facing growing pressures in the wild.”
Many wild species, from primates to elephants, are under threat. Humans are encroaching on their natural habitat, clearing forests for timber, oil and gas development, as well as mining. They are also hunted illegally for food or trade, or exposed to diseases.
As well as managing captive breeding programmes to ensure the future survival of endangered species, Twycross Zoo also supports research on animal health and well-being with universities, including the University of Nottingham and the University of Birmingham, as well as field projects and organisations which focus on the conservation and protection of endangered species and their habitat in the wild.
The Zoo is open to the public every day from 10.00 to 17.00. For more information, visit www.twycrosszoo.org.