Taronga Zoo is celebrating the birth of a bright orange Francois’ Langur, one of the world’s rarest monkeys.
The male infant, whom keepers have named ‘Nangua’ after the Mandarin word for pumpkin, was discovered cradled in mother Meili’s arms on 7 November.
Also known as Francois’ leaf monkeys, Langurs are born with bright orange hair while their parents are black in color. It is thought this color distinction makes it easier for adults to identify and look after infants.
Senior Primate Keeper, Jane Marshall said Nangua was already receiving lots of attention from his mother and the harem group’s other females, Noel and Elke.
“Meili has shown her calmness and experience since the birth, cradling and protecting the baby, but also allowing Noel and Elke to get close to him,” said Jane.
Francois’ Langurs practice allomothering or ‘auntying’, in which other females participate in raising the baby. Infants can often be seen being passed around as each of the Langurs take turns caring for their newest addition.
“Noel has taken on the role of allomother, carrying the baby about 50 percent of the time. This gives mum a break to eat and rest, but as soon as the baby whimpers she races straight back over to him,” said Jane.
Nangua has begun to explore his exhibit on Taronga’s Rainforest Trail to the delight of keen-eyed visitors.
Once widespread in China and Vietnam, Francois’ Langurs have become one of the world’s rarest monkeys due to habitat loss and poaching for traditional medicines. Taronga is the only zoo in Australia to care for these primates, but is working with other zoos globally to help ensure a future for the species.