Cotton-Top Tamarins Give Birth to Third Successful Pair in Two Years

Two cotton-top tamarin babies were born at Potter Park Zoo in October to parents Yuri and LG. Kaiti Chritz | Potter Park Zoo

Potter Park Zoo announced the recent birth of two critically endangered cotton-top tamarins to parents Yuri and LG. This is the pair’s third litter at the zoo since 2018. Their first pair was born October 2018 and another pair in June 2019. All eight of the tamarins, including the two babies recently born October 2, 2020, are living in a family group at Potter Park Zoo.

There are only about 6,000 cotton-top tamarins left in the wild due to the destruction of an estimated 95% of their forest habitat in Colombia, South America. For this reason, Potter Park Zoo’s cotton-top tamarins have a very important role in helping visitors learn about and connect with this endangered species.

Cotton-top tamarins live in large family groups where older siblings help care for younger babies in a process called alloparenting. This helps the younger tamarins develop skills they will need to successfully raise their own family (and it relieves a bit of mom’s stress)!

The zoo’s animal care team reports the two babies are actively nursing and are observing their environment more and more each day. The older siblings have been seen regularly carrying the babies, who will become independent around 5 months of age.

Potter Park Zoo was recommended to breed the pair of cotton-top tamarins by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan. Currently, there are about 200 cotton-top tamarins in 60 AZA-accredited zoos across the United States. The goal of the Species Survival Plan is to ensure a healthy and genetically diverse zoo population to keep the species stable.

The zoo’s indoor areas, including the Bird & Reptile House where the cotton-top tamarins live, remain closed. Unfortunately, the tamarins will not be viewable in-person to guests at this time. Follow the zoo’s social media pages and blog to see updates on these two adorable tamarins and the whole family!