There are possibly fewer than 400 Francois langur monkeys in the world, but one was added to the population with the birth of a female Saturday at the Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden.
Only three were born last year in the 13 North American zoos that have about 60 langurs in captivity, said Dan McGinn, Mesker Park Zoo director.
A 2003 study estimated that there are only about 300 left in their natural habitat, the mountains and jungles of southwestern China and northeastern Vietnam, where logging and hunting have reduced their numbers by 90 percent since the 1980s.
"This is a big deal," McGinn said. "They are severely endangered. These guys might not be around without population management programs."
Francois langurs are known for the furry crests atop their heads and the white stripes that resemble sideburns in their otherwise black fur. They grow to be about two feet tall and weigh about 30 pounds.
The new baby can be seen in front of the Discovery Center near the main entrance off Bement Avenue. Langur babies usually have orange fur when they are born, but this one has an orange head and a mostly black body.
The zoo received two females, Liang and Sai, in November 2003 from the San Diego Zoo. Each gave birth to a son in August 2006.
The father, Babe, now 15, came from the Cincinnati Zoo in December 2005.
Liang, 8, gave birth to the female Saturday morning. Zookeepers "strongly suspect" Sai also is expecting, McGinn said, although it is hard to tell because langurs hide pregnancies, sicknesses and injuries to discourage predators.
The 2-year-old males, Ping and Badu, eventually could be moved to other zoos with unrelated, breeding-age females.