Belfast Zoo has welcomed a ‘little star’ to their family. On August 23, 2014, Chi, the Francois’ Langur, gave birth to a small but healthy infant. The diminutive male was recently given the name ‘Xiao Xing’ which means ‘little star’ in Chinese.
The small monkey was rejected by his mother at birth. Zoo curator, Andrew Hope, intervened to care for the young infant langur. Mr. Hope explains, “There are occasions where first time mothers just do not have the skill set or the instinct to care for their young. This is fairly common in many species. After monitoring the mother and baby, it quickly became clear that we needed to become involved.”
Since then, Andrew has been instrumental in hand-rearing the tiny Francois’ Langur, taking him home to ensure 24 hour care and regular feeding every few hours.
Andrew continues “There have been a lot of sleepless nights and countless bottles but it has been so rewarding to see his progress. Francois’ Langurs are a species close to my heart. I am the studbook keeper for these langurs, which means that I coordinate the genetic and reproductive management of the captive population living in the seven European zoos privileged to keep this endangered species. In early 2014, I made the arduous climb of Mount Kilimanjaro to raise awareness for a number of conservation campaigns, including the Guanxi Francois’ Langur conservation action plan. Francois’ Langurs are facing a high risk of extinction due to habitat destruction, increased agriculture, warfare, logging and they are also hunted as food, for medicine and for the pet trade. In 2003, there were estimated to be less than 500 langurs in Vietnam and only approximately 1400 in China. It has been a pleasure to play such an active role in the conservation of this species especially as our ‘little star’ is really starting to develop a personality and become much more adventurous!”
Francois’ Langurs are found in the tropical forests and limestone hills of China, Vietnam and Laos. For this reason, contact was made with the British International School of Shanghai, Pudong Campus. The children were given the challenge of coming up with a Chinese name for the little monkey.
Nicola Howard, head of the middle school, said “The winning name that the pupils decided on was a suggestion by year six student, Marguerite Girard. Marguerite’s name was ‘Xiao Xing’ which means ‘little star’. The staff and students of the middle school are delighted to have had the opportunity to name Xiao Xing and are looking forward to regular updates. We also hope to continue our support of the species by fundraising for conservation campaigns.”
See more photos, and read more about Xiao Xing below the fold!
Adult Francois’ Langurs are black in color with white sideburns. However, newborns are ginger in color. This color changes slowly and reaches black at one year of age.
Visitors to Belfast Zoo will not yet be able to see Xiao Xing, as he will continue to be cared for by Andrew. Long term, Xiao Xing will begin to be introduced back to his family group as he develops. It is expected that he will one day rejoin the group in the zoo.