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Zoo welcomes cotton-top tamarin babies

Published: 15 June 2018

Auckland Zoo has welcomed two critically endangered cotton-top tamarin babies to the world.

The babies we born at 7pm on Tuesday 12 June, and are the first cotton-tops to be bred at the zoo for the past 16 years.

A healthy birth

The zoo's Primate team leader, Amy Robbins, says that, although it is still early days, both babies and parents are doing well.

"We’re all buzzing about the new arrivals," she says.

"It’s exciting to have our cotton-top parents starting to build their troop, and being a critically endangered species makes the babies arrival even more special."

"They’re showing signs of being great parents, with Mum feeding and Dad carrying them."

We won’t know the sex of the pair for some time, but the zoo will provide updates on their progress.

Becoming more confident

The new troop are still adjusting to the world, but Amy says they’re becoming more and more confident, so visitors may get a glimpse of the two new babies during their next visit.

The zoo’s cotton-top parents, a male from Germany and a female from Italy, have settled in well since their arrival in December and share their Rainforest home with three female agoutis.

Critically endangered

Cotton-tops are critically endangered in the lowland forests of South America having lost 80 per cent of their original habitat over the last 40 years to deforestation for agriculture, paper and timber supplies.

For this reason our cotton-tops have an important advocacy role at Auckland Zoo – to help visitors connect with the species and be a voice for their wild cousins.

You can help their cause by buying only rainforest-friendly products – look for the Forest Stewardship Council logo on all paper, timber and toilet paper products for a certification you can trust to protect our forests for future generations.

Cotton-top tamarin facts

  1. The cotton-top tamarin is a small New World monkey weighing less than 0.5kg.
  2. Cotton-top tamarins are arboreal (tree dwelling) in wet tropical forests or dry thorn forests in northern Colombia. They live in the mid to lower levels of the forest and have an important role as a seed disperser within their ecosystem.
  3. These primates live in family groups of about 15 animals. Tamarins are monogamous animals (mate for life). Females dominate tamarin society and only one female has babies at a time in each group. Male cotton-tops care for the babies: he is even there to assist at the birth and looks after them throughout the early stages.
  4. The species is critically endangered due to large-scale deforestation and habitat destruction, as the Colombian northwestern lowland forests have been reduced to 5 per cent of their previous area. It is estimated that there are only 6000 individuals left in the wild.
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