The Powell-based Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has announced the birth of two silvered leaf langurs — born Dec. 1 and Jan. 11 — with the latest being the zoo’s first birth of the new year.
These births also mark the Columbus Zoo’s first langur additions since 2011, and the first time two babies were born in a troop here since 2010.
Langurs, which have black fur with silvered tips as adults, are born bright orange. This marked difference in the coat color is believed to encourage other female langurs to assist in raising the young, a practice called allomothering.
The births were also important for the breeding recommendations outlined by the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to manage threatened or endangered species, according to zoo officials. Silvered leaf langurs (Trachypithecus cristatus) are listed as “near threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, due to population declines caused by habitat loss.
“The other keepers and I were ecstatic when the babies were born,” said Laura McGlothlin, assistant curator of the Columbus Zoo’s Asia Quest region. “Baby monkeys add a fun dynamic to the troop, and this growth resembles what you would see with langur families in the wild.”
The Columbus Zoo is one of four zoos in the country to breed silvered leaf langurs. Four troops reside here: a troop of eight bachelors; two non-breeding pairs; and one troop with a male, two females and the two new babies.
Patty, age 16, gave birth Dec. 1 to her fifth offspring, who has since been determined to be a girl, officials said. Gumby, age 14, gave birth to her sixth offspring, the gender of which has not yet been determined, on Jan. 11. Both mothers mated with Thai, who is 4.5 years old. Both mothers are experienced caregivers and continue to reside in the habitats within view of zoo guests. The keepers have not yet named the babies, and will do so soon through a department voting process.
The mothers and babies are showing signs of good health. The eldest newborn has begun venturing on her own, and was instantly curious about the newest baby. Adults will nestle a newborn the first full week, after which the newborn will grasp the adult’s fur during ventures around the tree tops. Young langurs begin to sit and walk on their own after about two weeks.
Langurs become completely silver by six months. At six weeks, Patty’s baby is already showing signs of graying in her face, hands and tail. These monkeys reach sexual maturity around three years of age and births may occur at 12-month intervals.
The range of the silvered leaf langur includes Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. Wild populations are losing their habitats as lands are cleared for oil palm plantations or destroyed by forest fires, zoo officials said. Langurs are also hunted for their meat or captured to serve as pets.
Information for this story was provided by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Powell.