Silver-leaf Langurs

Meet our new silver-leaf langurs! Aden, our resident male, is brave, outgoing, and adventurous. He lives with four females: Tevy, LiLi, Adamena, and Zoe. Tevy and LiLi are mature and attentive to the younger langurs; Adamena learns a lot from Tevy and LiLi; Zoe is our youngest and smallest, timid yet curious.

We are very proud and excited to have these langurs. This group adds increased genetic variability to the North American population. They are from the Singapore Zoo, and their genetic make-up is highly valued. Langurs are very sensitive primates. Found in the rain forest canopy of Southeast Asia, they are difficult to study in the wild, so little is known about their natural behavior. They can be challenging to care for in zoos, and our priority has been to make them feel as comfortable and secure as possible.

The silver-leaf langur troop arrived in the San Diego Zoo’s Sun Bear Forest in August 2008. In an attempt to mimic their natural habitat, we filled their bedroom area with large pieces of ficus browse. This gave them places where they could “hide” while I cleaned their bedroom, keeping my head averted so as not to gaze directly in their eyes and making sure my movements were slow and smooth.

To help them adjust to the exhibit, we connected all of the branches and other perches into winding trails so the langurs would not have to jump. This helped them navigate around their new home comfortably; as they got more familiar with the layout, we gradually removed the connections!

I hoped that by “making friends” with the male, Aden, the rest of the troop would see that it was okay to have me around. Over the first few weeks, I spent time with Aden, talking to him and offering a favorite treat: peanuts! This helped build a bond with him that has spilled over to the rest of the family, and they seem to have adjusted very nicely to life in San Diego.

Be sure to stop by Sun Bear Forest and look for the striking silver monkeys with a long tail and wild Mohawk!

Beth McDonald is a keeper at the San Diego Zoo.

Read Beth’s previous blog, A Gibbon Birthday Party.

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