La Palmyre Zoo’s female Cotton-top Tamarin recently gave birth to twins. This is the first birth for the Zoo’s breeding pair, which was created one year ago. The babies are now four-weeks old and are doing very well.
Cotton-top Tamarins are easily recognizable by the crest of white hair around their head. They usually live in small groups composed of 10 to 15 individuals and spend their day foraging for food. They mainly eat fruits, except during the dry season when fruits are scarcer. During dry seasons, they eat gum, nectar, and insects.
Cotton-top Tamarins are able to produce 40 different vocalizations that are used for delimiting their territory, indicate food or predators.
With Tamarins and Marmosets, all the group members take care of the offspring: the mother breastfeeds her babies but the father and the other individuals carry them when they are not suckling. This cooperation offers advantages: the non-mature individuals practice their future parental skills, and the male reinforces its privileged access and relationships with the female.
An almost total deforestation of the Cotton-tops home range, as well as the capture of thousands of wild specimens for medical research purposes in the 60s, nearly pushed the species to the brink of extinction in it’s native Colombia. It now numbers about 6,000 individuals but is listed as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.
Since the end of the 80s, the Proyecto Titi, supported by La Palmyre Zoo, is managing a multidisciplinary conservation programme that has been studying groups of Cotton-top Tamarins in the wild, educating local communities and working to create several protected areas.