Nashville Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of two cotton-top tamarins on Wednesday, May 23. This is the first birth of cotton-top tamarins since the opening of Expedition Peru: Trek of the Andean Bear in March 2018. Since cotton-top tamarins are critically endangered in the wild, every birth of captive cotton-tops help secure the future of this decreasing population.
“Caqueta, the mother, gave birth to these babies at 4 p.m.,” said Sabrina Barnes, Nashville Zoo Primate Area Supervisor. “Typically, primate species give birth overnight and keepers come in to find the babies in the morning, so this was an extremely rare occasion that the keepers got to observe labor and birth during the day.”
This is the second birth for five year old, Caqueta, and 13 year old, Pancho since arriving at Nashville Zoo in 2016. The first birth resulted in the infant dying on the third day due to a genetic birth defect.
“Cotton-top tamarin infants have a high mortality rate for the first week of life, so keepers are closely monitoring the babies over the next several days to make sure that they continue to appear healthy and nurse,” Barnes said.
The new infants weighed roughly 40 grams each at birth. Keepers are unable to identify sex at this moment because the infants are too young. These babies will stay at the zoo until they are sexually mature and then they will go on to breed at other zoos. The family group can grow larger as it accommodates multiple generations of offspring before they emigrate from the group.
The cotton-top tamarin is one of the most endangered South American primates and gets its name from the mane of white fur around its face. This species lives in the forests of Colombia and are about 9 inches long. They eat fruits, flowers, nectar, plant gums, saps, and latex, as well as small animal prey.
The cotton-top tamarin is listed as critically endangered due to deforestation and the pet trade. Nashville Zoo is part of AZA's cotton-top tamarin Species Survival Plan and also contributes financially to Proyecto Titi, a conservation program designed to provide useful information to assist in the long-term preservation of the cotton-top tamarin and to develop local community advocates to promote conservation efforts in Colombia.