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One of the world’s rarest and most endangered monkeys has been born at a Sydney zoo

Toni Hetherington, October 6, 2019 1:30PM Kids News

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The new-born male Francois' Langur, one of the world's rarest monkeys, at Taronga Zoo. Picture: Rick Stevens/Taronga Zoo/AFP<br/> media_cameraThe new-born male Francois' Langur, one of the world's rarest monkeys, at Taronga Zoo. Picture: Rick Stevens/Taronga Zoo/AFP


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One of the world’s rarest* monkeys has been born in Australia.

Sydney’s Taronga Zoo is celebrating the birth of a new male Francois’ Langur, one of the world’s most critically endangered* primates*.

Just 10 days old, the new baby doesn’t have a name yet. He was born to mother Noel.

Like all young Francois’ Langurs, the baby was born with distinctive* bright orange hair, which is very different from his parents’ black colouring.

It’s believed the orange colour makes it easier for adults to find and look after their babies.

media_cameraThe baby with his mother Noel at Taronga Zoo. Picture: Rick Stevens/Taronga Zoo/AFP

“Seeing Francois’ Langurs in the wild is incredibly rare, but seeing a baby is even more so. Their vibrant orange colour may only last for a few weeks before they start to turn black,” said senior zoo keeper Jane Marshall.

Francois’ Langurs are found in the wild in China, Vietnam and central Laos, but their numbers are threatened in these environments by hunters and habitat loss from mining and the destruction* of forests.

Francois’ Langurs grow up with allomothering* care, which means the adult females take it in turns to care for the baby. This shared responsibility helps the mum cope with her new duties, and allows other females to learn the skills they need to become a mother.

“It’s very interesting seeing the females in the group interact and care for the baby. They all clearly care for him very much, and pass him to one another throughout the day, “ Ms Marshall said.

Francois Langur baby at Taronga Zoo

“Not a lot of people know about Francois’ Langurs as a species*, but these beautiful animals are very vibrant* animals, who are incredibly agile* and intelligent,” she explained.

“With only around 3000 individuals left in the wild, these animals are in trouble. The birth of this male at Taronga is great news for the species.”

This male baby is the third Francois’ Langur born at Taronga Zoo since 2011 as part of an international breeding program for the endangered species.

Tam Dao was born in 2011 after his father Bobo, was brought to Sydney from Beijing Zoo in 2010.

In November 2015 the zoo also welcomed a baby boy named Nangua after the Mandarin word for pumpkin.

Francois Langur baby media_cameraFrancois Langur babies are born orange but turn black like their parents after a few weeks. Picture: Rick Stevens/Taronga Zoo/AFP


  • Names: Also called Francois’ leaf monkey, Tonkin leaf monkey or white side-burned black langur.
  • Lives: In dense, humid, tropical rainforests.
  • Weighs: Males are between 6.5kg-7.8kg and females 5.5kg-7.9kg.
  • Height: 61cm.
  • Lifespan: They live for about 25 years.
  • Diet: They eat mostly leaves but also shoots, fruits, flowers, and bark. They have multi-chambered* stomachs containing special bacteria and enzymes* to help break down the leaves they eat.
  • How they spend their time: Most of the day is spent resting or looking for food. However, they also spend time travelling, huddling together, playing and grooming*.


  • rarest: unusual or uncommon
  • primates: from the monkey family
  • critically endangered: at risk of becoming extinct
  • distinctive: stands out
  • destruction: causing so much damage something is ruined forever
  • allomothering: when other females help the mother to care for a baby
  • species: breed or race
  • vibrant: bright and active
  • agile: moves quickly and easily
  • multi-chambered: many chambers
  • enzymes: protein molecules in cells which speed up chemical reactions in the body
  • grooming: brushing and cleaning


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  1. What is the new baby’s name?
  2. Where do Francois’ Langurs live in the wild?
  3. Why are they critically endangered?
  4. How many are left in the world?
  5. What is allomothering?


1. Fact file in pictures
Use all the facts you can find about Francois’ Langur monkeys in the article and create a drawing of the baby monkey that includes these facts. Make sure you include things such as height, weight and habitat.

Time: allow at least 45 minutes for this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Visual Arts, Critical and Creative Thinking

2. Extension
Write a letter to the leader of either China, Vietnam or Laos arguing why their country should take action to protect the Francois Langur monkeys. Research what sort of leader they are.

Then use reasoned arguments to convince the leader why they should stop deforestation or what changes could be made to mining and hunting laws to protect the primates.

Time: allow 20 minutes for this activity
Curriculum Links: English

After reading the article, with a partner, highlight all the openers you can find in blue. Discuss if they are powerful and varied openers or not. Why do you think the journalists have used a mix of simple and power openers? Would you change any, and why?

HAVE YOUR SAY: What would you name the baby monkey? Why did you choose the name?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will show until approved by editors.

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