Year of the Fire Monkey

by Protima Daryanani


 (Photo courtesy of the  Taronga Zoo .)

(Photo courtesy of the Taronga Zoo.)

In honor of Lunar New Year, the celebrations for which are ongoing this week and next, we thought it would be more than fitting to feature one of the most adorable monkeys we've ever seen. Courtesy of the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia, meet Nangua, a bright orange Francois’ Langur, one of the world’s rarest monkeys. Langurs are born with bright orange hair (while adults are black) to make it easier for adults to identify and look after infants. Named "Nangua" after the Mandarin word for pumpkin, the Senior Primate Keeper at Taronga Zoo, Jane Marshall, said that Nangua has received lots of attention from his mother, Meili, and the harem group’s other females, Noel and Elke, who partake in "allomothering" or "auntying," and help take care of the baby. “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,” Jane said in a zoo press release.

Although they were 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, and works with other zoos globally to help ensure a future for the species.

I can't recommend the Taronga Zoo highly enough. From the locals (koalas, kangaroos, and wombats) to the hippopotamus, deer, and elephants, all the animals were delightful and it's clear that the Zoo cares deeply about the welfare of its animal inhabitants. And who wouldn't be envious of the giraffes who have incredible sweeping views of the Sydney Harbour including the Opera House and Harbour Bridge? If you're ever in Sydney, I recommend a visit. But do it fast, before Nangua loses all of his orange hair!

 Nangua is hungry! (Photo courtesy of the  Taronga Zoo .)

Nangua is hungry! (Photo courtesy of the Taronga Zoo.)

 "Can I play?" (Photo courtesy of the  Taronga Zoo .)

"Can I play?" (Photo courtesy of the Taronga Zoo.)

 "I'm tired!" (Photo courtesy of the  Taronga Zoo .)

"I'm tired!" (Photo courtesy of the Taronga Zoo.)

 "Hello!" (Photo courtesy of the  Taronga Zoo .)

"Hello!" (Photo courtesy of the Taronga Zoo.)

 Nangua examines a flower given to him as part of the Lunar New Year celebrations, and, we like to think, in anticipation of Valentine's Day. (Photo courtesy of the  Taronga Zoo .)

Nangua examines a flower given to him as part of the Lunar New Year celebrations, and, we like to think, in anticipation of Valentine's Day. (Photo courtesy of the Taronga Zoo.)