Each year on August 15, we celebrate International Day of the Cotton-top Tamarin.

Cotton-top tamarins are native only to Colombia and are a critically endangered species. These one-pound monkeys are omnivorous, eating a wide variety of foods from insects and small birds to fruits and tree sap. Interestingly, cotton-top tamarins have one of the most extensive “vocabularies” of all primate species, with over 38 different words to identify foods, locations, family members, etc. 

Cotton top tamarins almost always give birth to twins, which collectively weigh about 20% of the mother’s body weight – that’s like a human giving birth to a 25-pound baby! The babies are raised by all members of the family, with older siblings and fathers doing a majority of the carrying duties once the babies are born. This community approach to infant care helps to increase the chances of babies surviving infancy.

The Phoenix Zoo is home to six Cotton-top tamarins on the Children’s Trail. Stripe, age 5, is father to all four juveniles in the group. He’s a very attentive father and stern with keepers when he feels like his family needs additional protection. Lola, age 9, is the mother to all four juveniles. She’s very calm and likes to observe keepers while they clean and place enrichment. Marimonda (Mari), age 1.5, is a goofy monkey who enjoys watching leaves blow in the wind. Tunda, also 1.5, is Mari’s twin sister. She’s very quick, and often hops around like a kangaroo. Walnut (Wally) is a one-year-old who is rambunctious and picks on his big sisters frequently. Last but not least, Hazelnut (Hazel), also age 1, is Wally’s twin. She is the smallest of the group and is very curious, but shy.

Learn more about how you can help cotton-tom tamarins in the wild, and check out a photo gallery of our ridiculously cute family below!