Zookeepers at ZSL London Zoo are celebrating the arrival of the first Hanuman langur born at the Zoo’s Land of the Lions exhibit – a monkey named after the Hindu god Hanuman and considered sacred by Indian holy men.
Born to first-time parents Saffron and Rex after a 200-day gestation, zookeepers were delighted when they first spotted the tiny pink-faced Hanuman langur (Semnopithecus entellus) early on the morning of Sunday 23 July.
Zookeeper Agnes Kiss said: “The first Hanuman langur to be born to this troop at ZSL London Zoo and the first new arrival at Land of the Lions, this tiny primate is an exciting symbol of the success of this project.
“To mark the occasion we’ve called her Kamala, which means lotus flower in Gujarati – the sign of beauty, fertility and prosperity.
“Everyone is very pleased with Kamala’s progress so far,” said Agnes. “At the moment she has a pale face and downy dark fur, but it won’t be long before her skin turns black and her coat thickens and turns a magnificent silver - just like her parents.
“She’ll also grow into her large ears, which are perfect for picking up subtle noises over long distances; in the Gir National Park, Hanuman langurs act as an early warning system for other wildlife – making loud ‘barks’ from high in the treetops to warn of a lion’s approach. In Land of the Lions the troop can often be heard vocalising in response to the lions’ roars, which Kamala will learn how to do from her parents.”
Land of the Lions, which opened last year, is also home to ZSL’s Asiatic lion pride - male Bhanu and lionesses Heidi, Indi and Rubi. The exhibit tells the story of the Gir, a unique area that is home to the last wild population of the Critically Endangered lion species.
Hanuman langurs are widespread throughout Asia, and are named after the Hindu god of healing and worship: by contrast, there are just 500 Asiatic lions left in the wild.
Kamala’s upbringing is already a community affair, which is natural for Hanuman langurs; dad Rex is staying protectively close to his first born, while another female, Lucy, has been spotted carefully carrying Kamala around - giving Saffron a well-deserved rest every now and again.
Visit ZSL London Zoo this summer to see Kamala and more than 18,000 other animal residents.