Sanctuary Asia, opening soon at the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden, will create a vast, multipurpose environment where endangered animals from the Asian continent can thrive while receiving world-class animal care. Prior to the opening, we will periodically preview a new species or feature coming to the habitat. We previously profiled the cassowary and tanuki (raccoon dogs), now it's time to meet the Francois' langur, also known as the Tonkin leaf monkey.
The Zoo will soon be home to three to four unrelated male langurs, all coming from different institutions to form a new bachelor troop in Sanctuary Asia. This monkey species is notable for its black, silky hair with distinct white sideburns. They grow to about two feet tall and weigh approximately 15 pounds. Francois langurs eat mostly leaves, shoots, fruits, flowers and bark.
The species is named for Auguste Francois, a French Consul in southern China who is believed to be the first person to introduce this species to Europe.
Native to China and Vietnam, Francois’ langurs are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), as the native population has declined by about half in the last 36 years with an estimated population of only 2,000 remaining in the wild. The greatest threats to the species are from hunting and habitat loss.
In addition to Francois’ langurs, Sanctuary Asia will be home to red pandas, Asian rhinos, tanuki (raccoon dogs), Komodo dragons and will also add 3.5 acres to the Asian elephant herd’s existing 4.5-acre habitat. A major feature of the new habitat will be a two-story building with vast windows seamlessly uniting animal habitats to create a highly visual and memorable experience. The views will include the elephant, rhino and Komodo dragon habitats.
Sanctuary Asia will provide daily food service and a facility designed for after-hours special events, including weddings. A water zone will give children a splash area to experience in the summer. The landscape design will include plantings native to Oklahoma, but will resemble lush Asian themes. Funding for the 6.6-acre expansion was secured through the Zoo’s 1/8-of-a-cent sales tax accrual, approved by Oklahoma City citizens in 1990. The $22 million project was outlined as Phase II in the Zoo’s master plan in 2010.
Photo credit: Junkyardsparkle (creative commons)