Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: April 15, 2022 12:01 am

Cotton Top Tamarin Infant Chester Zoo

A cotton top tamarin infants clings to its parents at Chester Zoo in the United Kingdom

Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

A rare cotton top tamarin has been born at Chester Zoo in the United Kingdom for the first time in 22 years. The endangered primates are increasingly threatened as a key target for the illegal wildlife trade.

Conservationists at the wildlife charity are ''óverjoyed'' with the new arrival which represents a significant achievement in the conservation of the species.

First time parents Treat (3) and Leo (5) have settled well in to family life and are both helping to care for the infant.

Siobhan Ward, Primate Keeper at Chester Zoo, said:

“We strongly suspected that Treat was pregnant from our regular monitoring of her weight and seeing her belly swell, but it was a fantastic surprise nonetheless to see a tiny little ball of fluff clinging onto her back one morning.

Cotton top tamarins give birth after a five month pregnancy.

“The little one weighs just 40g and is around 10cm tall from head to tail, so it’s a little too tiny and a bit early on to determine its gender at the moment. The baby will be carried around by both parents for around the next six months – but it’s actually dad who’s been doing most of the carrying so far, passing it to mum for feeds while he stays protectively close by. Both Treat and Leo have taken to parenthood brilliantly.

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Just 2,000 cotton top tamarins are thought to remain in their native range in a small area of Colombia. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list this species as critically endangered on their red list for threatened species.

Just 5% of the original habitat which supported this species is intact following deforestation. The illegal wildlife trade is also an ongoing threat to the species.

Nick Davis, Deputy Curator of Mammals at the zoo, said:

“The cotton-top tamarin is an exquisite animal but sadly it’s one of the most endangered primate species on the planet.

“It’s a highly threatened species because its wild habitat has been destroyed by commercial logging for the agriculture, paper and timber industries, and these miniature monkeys are also regularly found in the illegal wildlife trade. It wasn’t that long ago that these miniature primates were seen as quite a common species, so their dramatic demise over the last few years shows just how a species thought to be safe can change so rapidly.

“Cotton-top tamarins have an iconic look with their voluminous plume of white fur on the tops of their head. This crest of hair raises up when then they get excited, or feel that they need to warn off danger, making them look bigger and more intimidating. It’s these distinctive looks that tends to draw poachers to them.


“Due to their complex social and environmental needs, cotton-top tamarins should never be kept as pets. They’re highly intelligent animals that can live for around 25 years when safe in zoos.”

Learn more about Cotton Top Tamarins here - Cotton Top Tamarin Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about Chester Zoo on their website – Chester Zoo

Cotton Top Tamarin Infant Chester Zoo

A cotton top tamarin infants clings to its parents at Chester Zoo in the United Kingdom

Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

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