Zoo Celebrates Two Rare Primate Births

Cotton top tamarin 3 - 27.12.18 - Credit Brian Lilly (1)

The year 2018 ended on a high note for the Shaldon Wildlife Trust with the births of two endangered Tamarins.

Tamarins are a group of Monkeys native to Central and South America. There are more than 30 species of Tamarins, and most are roughly the size of a squirrel.

Cotton top tamarin 1 - 27.12.18 - Credit Brian Lilly

Cotton top tamarin 1 - 27.12.18 - Credit Brian LillyPhotos of Cotton-top Tamarin: Brian Lilly

A Pied Tamarin (not pictured) arrived in late October, the 12th to be born at the zoo. This species is found only in a small slice of tropical rain forest near the Brazilian city of Manaus. Pied Tamarins require highly specialized care and feeding, so zoo births are rare. The species is listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), because it is threatened with habitat loss.

A Cotton-top Tamarin born this fall is the first to be born at the facility in 15 years.  The baby was born to parents Tina and Turner, who are providing excellent care for their offspring. Males assist the female by carrying the baby on their back.

Like their cousins the Pied Tamarins, Cotton-top Tamarins are native to South America and have a unique diet that includes tree sap. They are listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN, with only about 6,000 individuals remaining in the wild. They were once listed as one of the 25 most endangered Primates in the world.

Cooperative breeding programs among zoos help to maintain a high level of genetic diversity within the zoo-dwelling population. Once these two babies have grown up, they will likely move to other European zoos and breed with unrelated individuals, thus bolstering the species.

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