From bright orange to black and white

March 23, 2010 (CHICAGO)

They are celebrating at Lincoln Park Zoo's primate house, where crowds are gathering around the Francois Langur Monkey Habitat. The reason is simple -- there's a new baby. It's an orange headed little creature with ears like Doctor Spock. This little apple, it appears, fell far from the tree.

"On Thursday we had a baby Francois langur born here at the zoo. Francois langurs are endangered in the wild. They're from China and Vietnam so we're very excited about being able to contribute to the Francois Langur population here," said Dr. Megan Ross, v.p. Animal Care at Lincoln Park Zoo.

The sex of the little carrot top isn't known yet and probably won't be known for several more months. All that really matters now is that the baby is doing just fine -- even though it looks nothing at all like mom or dad.

The adults are black in color and the baby is a bright, day-glo orange. But seeing as this is all about nature there must be a good reason for it -- and there is.

"We think the orange color is to attract the other females in the group. So that the other females will do a behavior called aunting where they'll actually come and take the offspring from the mother and carry it around for a little while and then the mother will come and take it back," said Dr. Megan Ross.

That happened while ABC7 was at the primate house. Another female-- or aunt-- took the new baby from her mother. Mom wasn't too happy about it and neither was the baby -- but apparently it's all about future moms learning how to be good parents.

"So young females are exposed to offspring and get used to carrying them around. So when they have their own offspring they've got a little more experience," said Dr. Ross.

The baby langur will keep the bright orange living color fur for another three to six months and then slowly fade to black and white.

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