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Meet the first Francois' langur born at the Saint Louis Zoo

Rhubarb, a Francois’ langur baby, was born at the Saint Louis Zoo Sept. 30. She is shown here at nine days old on Oct. 8.
Ethan Riepl
St. Louis Zoo
Rhubarb, a Francois’ langur baby, was born at the Saint Louis Zoo Sept. 30. She is shown here at nine days old on Oct. 8.

Editor's note: This story was originally published in the Belleville News-Democrat.

The first baby Francois’ langur to be born at the Saint Louis Zoo arrived Sept. 30, and her name is Rhubarb. Zoo officials announced in an Oct. 28 email the birth is important for the species, which is categorized as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

“There is reason to believe the species has declined by at least 50% over the past 36 years due primarily to habitat loss and hunting,” according to the zoo's statement.

Rhubarb’s mom is named Dolly, and Dolly experienced health complications after giving birth that required round-the-clock care and supplemental feedings. Dolly is now healthy enough to fully care for and feed Rhubarb.

“Dolly has been a phenomenal mother and, through the benefit of her having a great relationship with the keeper staff, has been incredibly accommodating to the supportive care that she and Rhubarb needed to get back on track,” Ethan Riepl, primate keeper and Francois’ langur species survival plan vice coordinator said in the statement. “She deserves all the credit in the world for our success.”

Other langurs at the Saint Louis Zoo include 10-year-old Deshi, Rhubarb’s father, Sydney, a 15-year-old who helps Dolly out with child care, and Marc, an older male.

Zoo officials introduced Dolly, Sydney and Deshi in 2014. Deshi was paired with Dolly and Sydney in a breeding recommendation in 2019 by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Francois’ Langur Species Survival Plan, a program responsible for maintaining a genetically healthy population of Francois’ langurs in North American zoos, the statement read.

The langur family is currently bonding in a private area of the habitat and may not be on view, zoo officials said. The Francois’ langur is native to tropical forests of Southeast Asia and they are social, tree-dwelling animals. The primates live in family groups. Habitat destruction and hunting are the primary threats to the Francois’ langur, according to the Saint Louis Zoo.

Meredith Howard is a reporter with the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.

Meredith Howard is a service journalist with the Belleville News-Democrat in Belleville, Illinois.