It has been fourteen years since Cotton-top Tamarins produced young at Cotswold Wildlife Park, so keepers were thrilled when their newest 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 have destroyed an estimated 95% 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, which is a devastatingly low figure, considering their numbers once ranged between 20,000 to 30,000 in the 1960s and 1970s.
The twin’s new father Johnny (named for punk star Johnny Rotten) is an important individual for the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP). 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!”
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, and 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.
Cotton-top Tamarins boast a fantastic crest of long white hair, like a mane of white cotton. The white fur can be raised and lowered, creating a punk-like fan display. Cotton-top Tamarins also have more than 40 vocalizations used to communicate everything from the discovery of food to the approach of predators.
More incredible pics, below the fold!