CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — The Cape May County Zoo welcomed the birth of a cotton-top tamarin last week
The small primate was born Aug. 3 to 13-year-old Cordelia and 5-year-old Tam-Tam, the county said in a news release Friday. The baby was the first tamarin born at the zoo in more than 17 years.
“The baby is strong and healthy and will be carried closely by both Mom and Dad for several weeks until it is strong enough to venture out on its own,” said Alex Ernst, associate veterinarian at the zoo. “The gender has not been identified because the baby is held by the mother. They are out and about in their habitat and can be viewed by the public. Visitors will have to look closely at Mom to see the baby as she will be holding onto it very tight.”
Cotton-top tamarins are considered one of the smallest primates but are easily recognized by their long, white crests of hair that extend from their forehead to their shoulders.
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They are one of three Amazonian species of tamarin and are found in a small area of northwest Colombia, according to the zoo. Their average weight is about 15 ounces, and their average height is between 9 and 13 inches. Their average lifespan is about 13 years in the wild but longer in captivity, with the oldest recorded tamarin living to 24 years in captivity.
Since 1976, cotton-top tamarins have been given the highest level of protection, and all international trade is banned, according to the zoo. Currently, the species is at risk due to large-scale habitat destruction and is classified as critically endangered. They are considered one of the rarest primates in the world, with an estimated 6,000 left in the wild.
“Our cotton-top tamarins are a Species Survival Plan pair, and every successful birth helps to stabilize the future for these critically endangered South American primates,” Ernst said.
The goal of the SSP is to manage animal populations within zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to ensure sustainability and a genetically diverse population while enhancing the conservation of species in the wild.
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