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New arrival at Cotswold Wildlife Park this summer


One of the world’s most endangered primates born at Cotswold Wildlife Park.

It has been fourteen years since Cotton-top Tamarins produced young at the Burford collection, so keepers were thrilled when their newest Tamarin female gave birth to twins. The striking infants were born to first-time parents and have been named Tilly and Tammy.

Cotton-top Tamarins (Saguinus oedipus) are considered to be one of the world’s 25 most endangered primates* and are classified as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), making them one of South America’s rarest Monkeys. Rampant deforestation and gold mining has destroyed an estimated 95 per cent of their natural habitat. In the wild, these exceptionally rare creatures are restricted to a tiny corner of north-west Colombia. Approximately 6,000 individuals remain in the wild – a devastatingly low figure, considering their numbers once ranged between 20,000 and 30,000 in the 1960s and 1970s.

New father Johnny is an important individual for the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) as he has an impressively pure bloodline, so these new births are considered significant additions to the EEP, helping to ensure the genetic diversity of this rare and wonderful species.

Curator of Cotswold Wildlife Park, Jamie Craig, said: “This is the first time we have bred this species for many years and the keepers are delighted at the progress of the youngsters so far. Together with the rapidly growing Emperor Tamarin babies, it certainly is an exciting time for the Primate section!”

Each member of the family plays a specific role when it comes to rearing the young. The dominant male spends the most time carrying the infants – the mother carries them for the first week of life then holds them only to suckle. Females are pregnant for six months and the babies weigh about 15 per cent of their mother’s body weight, which is equivalent to a nine-stone woman giving birth to two ten-pound babies.

They are not the only Tamarin births being celebrated this summer. Emperor Tamarin twins were born on 4th May (one pictured left). The sexes of the newborns are unknown at the moment, so they are yet to be named. Cotton-top and Emperor Tamarins (Saguinus imperator) are New World Monkeys and are members of the Callitrichidae family. Both are visually striking and easily identified. The Cotton-top Tamarins boast a fantastic crest of long white hair, like a mane of white cotton, whereas the Emperor Tamarins are famous for their elegant white moustaches.

Visitors can see all four newborns at the Park. Their enclosures are opposite the entrance to interactive Lemur exhibit Madagascar. The Emperor Tamarins share their exhibit with Titi Monkeys and the smallest Monkey species on earth – the Pygmy Marmoset.

Additional information:

  • Up to 40,000 Cotton-top Tamarins were caught and exported for use in biomedical research before 1976 (when they were given the highest level of protection and all international trade was banned).
  • Cotton-top Tamarins have more than 40 vocalisations used to communicate everything from the discovery of food to the approach of predators.
  • The white fur on their head can be raised and lowered, creating a striking punk-like fan display. The Park’s adult male was named after famous punk star Johnny Rotten.
  • Tongue-flicking or “tonguing” is a unique Tamarin behaviour used in many contexts, including aggression and mating.
  • The Emperor Tamarin originates from western Brazil and eastern Peru.

Explore Gloucestershire
20 July 2015

 


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