Why is this baby monkey bright orange?

Why is this baby monkey bright orange?

New born pumpkin colored leaf monkey

A bright orange Francois’ Langur baby was born last November in the Taronga Zoo, in Sydney, Australia and this rare baby monkey is growing up all too quickly. He's still got his technicolor coat — a splash of bright orange that will eventually fade to black over time.

This fresh-faced fellow's name is Nangua, which is Mandarin for "Pumpkin." He hails from a very rare vintage of monkey called a Francois' langur, also known as a leaf monkey.

There are just 800 of his kind left in the world. He isn't the only Francois' langur born in captivity. There's also Raven, a girl, born at the Memphis Zoo in Tennessee last month.

The species was once commonly found throughout Asia, but now, thanks to habitat loss and poaching, they're mostly confined to pockets of China and Vietnam.

As the only zoo in Australia to care for these animals, Taronga is coordinating with other zoos, as it claims in a press release, to "ensure a future for the species."

Staff at the Memphis Zoo tells WREG Memphis that Francois' langurs "are known for their distinct facial markings. Their faces are completely black except for the two white strips of fur along both mandibles from mouth to ears."

Most notably, they're born radiant orange, before donning a more traditional black as they mature.

There may actually be some biological significance for all that unbelievable orange. Some experts suggest the sheer spectacle of these monkeys may encourage female Francois' langurs to look out for — and therefore take better care of — the babies in their group.

Nangua, as you can see, captures the eye. And the plight of his entire species is certainly worth caring about. As he matures, his orange will become black, and he will look very much like all the other guys.

Published on: January 2016