Zoo Boise Announces Birth of Cotton-top Tamarin


Zoo Boise proudly announces the newest member of the family - a cotton-top tamarin baby. The female tamarin was born at Zoo Boise on November 6, 2009. Tamarins are small primates from South America; the baby is the first tamarin born at Zoo Boise.

Cotton-top tamarin at 1 week old.

Unfortunately, the tamarin mother has never raised a baby before and was unable to care for this one. This is a natural occurrence both in the wild and in captivity; tamarins normally live in large family groups and learn from older females how to care for their young. Zoo Boise’s female tamarin has never learned to parent in a normal family group, so the tamarin baby is now being hand-raised by the zoo’s Animal Care Staff.

For the first month of its life, the baby has essentially been in intensive care and is easily susceptible to human diseases. Because of its fragile condition, the baby will not be on display to the general public for several months. “Zoo Boise wishes to thank everyone for their understanding to help ensure the animal’s health,” says Zoo Director Steve Burns.

For regular updates on the tamarin’s care and development, the public may become of fan of Zoo Boise on Facebook.

Cotton-top tamarin being fed by Dr. Amanda Guthrie

The tamarin does not currently have a name. Once she is on exhibit, Zoo Boise will hold a naming contest. For companies or individuals interested in sponsoring this contest, please contact the zoo.

Cotton-top tamarins are found in the tropical forests of South America. They are arboreal, which means they spend almost all of their time in the trees. Like many primate species around the world, tamarins are rapidly approaching extinction, which is caused by habitat destruction and poaching of the animals.

Because tamarins are rapidly approaching extinction, the cotton-top tamarins at Zoo Boise are part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP). As part of the SSP, Zoo Boise works with other zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to help ensure there is a healthy population of animals in captivity that could serve as a source of animals should reintroduction ever be necessary. Other SSP animals at Zoo Boise include the Amur tigers, Amur leopards, Andean condors, white-handed gibbons, red pandas, Grevy’s zebra, and snow leopards.

The new tamarin -- along with all the other animals at Zoo Boise -- help Zoo Boise achieve its conservation mission, says Burns. “Seeing animals up-close and in person helps foster a greater appreciation of animals in a unique educational setting.”

Zoo Boise is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, a national organization that supports excellence in animal care, conservation, education and science.

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