Golden lion tamarins are distinctive-looking, New World primates typically recognized by their bright orange coats and manes. Weighing in at just over one pound, these omnivorous little monkeys make their meals out of insects, fruits, tree exudates, flowers and small vertebrates (depending on the season).
And, yes, they are super cute.
Residing only in the Atlantic Forest region of Brazil, golden lion tamarins live in small family groups that consists of a parent pair and their offspring. Remarkably, all family members help in the rearing of infants.
Golden lion tamarins are considered endangered, but their wild numbers are increasing thanks to one of the great conservation stories in the zoological world. Between 1984 and 2001, 43 different institutions (including 41 zoos) around the world partnered to reintroduce 146 captive-born golden lion tamarins into the wild.
Today, about a third of the wild population of tamarins descend from those 146 individuals.
Golden Lion Tamarin Day was started by the Brazilian non-governmental organization, Associação Mico-Leão Dourado (AMLD), to celebrate this international partnership. AMLD works with local, national and international organizations to help save this amazing species. The US-based non-profit, Save the Golden Lion Tamarin, provides funding to AMLD to help continue their research and conservation work.
The Phoenix Zoo is home to three golden lion tamarins: Poppy, age 7, lives with a saki monkey, a Geoffroy’s marmoset and a red-rumped agouti in the Forest of Uco. Keepers would say she is the least golden lion tamarin-like tamarin you’ll ever meet; she’s not afraid of anything, is the first one of her group to check out new enrichment items and greets her keepers to see what treats they’ve brought her.
Alex and Stitch live together in the Tamarin Complex on the Children’s Trail. Alex is a 10-year-old female, who behaves like one would expect a tiny primate to behave: inquisitive until you acknowledge her presence, and then she prefers you to leave her food and go. Stitch, age 14, is our old man. He is very comfortable with his keepers and loves to snack on wax worms and bananas, but he would prefer not to work very hard for them.
All of our golden lion tamarins act as ambassadors for their wild counterparts, giving guests the opportunity to learn about these fascinating animals.
To learn more about golden lion tamarins and the conservation work being done for them, check out Save the Golden Lion Tamarin at http://savetheliontamarin.org.