Belfast Zoo is welcoming a new ‘little star’ into their family with the birth of a Francois langur. The young monkey was born to mother, Chi.
Zookeepers had sad news though when the young monkey was rejected by his mother. Andrew Hope, the zoo’s curator jumped in to provide critical care to the infant.
Andrew Said that “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.”
Andrew has had to provide care 24/7 to ensure the little languars life could be saved. Every few hours Andrew needs to feed the youngster. Andrew said that “There have been a lot of sleepless nights and countless bottles but it has been so rewarding to see his progress.”
Andrew does not just see at as a job though he said, “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.”
Andrews even takes his dedication outside the zoo’s walls. He recounted his trip to Africa to help animals, “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.”
The francois langur is a threated species in it’s wild home of Laos, China and Vietnam. Andrews said, “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!”
Keepers made contact with the British International School of Shanghai Campus in Pudong to have them come up with a Chinese name for the young monkey.
The middle school head, Nicola Howard 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.
Currently the young monkey is ginger colour. Her hair will slowly turn to black as she become 1 year of age. Xiao Xing will not be viewable as she is still being cared for by Andrew. As she grows she will once again meet her family members and be viewable in the zoo.
Photo Credit: Belfast Zoo