'Incredibly Rare' Monkey Which Faces Extremely High Risk of Extinction Born in Zoo

A female François' Langur monkey—a critically endangered species—has given birth to a baby boy at a zoo in Australia.

The species—which is also known as the François' leaf monkey, Tonkin leaf monkey, or white side-burned black langur—is one of the world's rarest monkeys with only about 3,000 individuals left living in the wild.

According to Taronga Zoo in Sydney, the baby was born to mother Noel last week, although the youngster has not yet been named.

Baby François' Langur monkeys feature distinctive bright orange hair which contrasts with the black coloring of the adults. Experts think that the orange color helps the adults to identify and care for their young.

"Seeing François' Langurs in the wild is incredibly rare, but seeing a baby is even more so," Jane Marshall, Senior Zoo Keeper at Taronga, said in a statement. "Their vibrant orange color may only last for a few weeks before they start to turn black."

The monkeys can weigh up to 17 pounds as adults, while the average body length is nearly two feet, according to the New England Primate Conservancy (NEPC). On average, they have a lifespan of about 25 years in the wild.

These monkeys live in harems—groups of animals which usually involve one or two males, a number of females and their offspring. This set up means that the responsibility of childcare is shared among several individuals, helping the new mother to cope and enabling other females to learn important child-rearing skills.

"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," Marshall said.

François' Langur monkeys are facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild and their population has been declining for the past three decades. The animals are only found in the humid, tropical forests and lush valleys of southern Guangxi province in China, northern Vietnam, and west-central Laos where they live almost exclusively in trees, according to the NEPC.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates how the number of endangered species is rising.

The number of endangered species is rising. Statista

In these areas, the monkeys often come into conflict with humans. For example, they are threatened by poaching due to demand for their body parts in the traditional Asian medicine market. Furthermore, increasing development in the areas where the monkeys live is leading to habitat loss.

"Not a lot of people know about François' Langurs as a species, but these beautiful animals are very vibrant animals, who are incredibly agile and intelligent," Marshall said.

"With only around 3,000 individuals left in the wild, these animals are in trouble. The birth of this male at Taronga is great news for the species. We're very lucky to have this birth at the zoo this month, and he is an amazing ambassador for the species and his wild relatives," she said.

François’ Langur monkey
Another François’ Langur baby watches the public from her mothers arms at Taronga Zoo on August 12, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. James D. Morgan/Getty Images