Cotton-top Tamarins ~
Cotton-top tamarins are a small species of monkey from the forests of Colombia. They are named for the bright white tuft of hair on top of their heads. This species lives in family groups consisting of a breeding pair and their offspring. Cotton-top tamarins feed upon saps and gums from trees, fruits, invertebrates, and the occasional small vertebrate prey item. Scientists have determined that the father cotton-top tamarin gains weight when the female is pregnant, because he shares many of the rearing responsibilities by carrying the young on his back much of the time. Unfortunately, this species has become rare in the wild due to deforestation for agricultural purposes, and historic over-collection for biomedical research. Historically, many cotton-top tamarins were removed from the wild because they are the only primate species, other than humans, to be known to suffer from colon cancer.
The Good Zoo participates in the cotton-top tamarin Species Survival Plan breeding program with other Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited institutions to ensure a sustainable population of this rare species in human care. The zoo also supports the cotton-top tamarin in the wild by contributing to Proyecto Titi, a community-based program that provides employment opportunities to Colombian communities via production of a variety of sustainable products such as bracelets, purses known as mochillas, and plastic fence posts from recycled materials. If you would be interested in supporting cotton-top tamarin conservation, you can visit Proyecto Titi’s website or you can donate to the zoo’s conservation programs (donation information coming soon).
At the zoo, we take care for a pair of cotton-top tamarins, Mateo and Virginia. We feed them a special zoo marmoset diet, grapes, apples, hard-boiled eggs, and mealworms. For enrichment, this pair enjoys climbing vines, puzzle-feeders full of crickets, toys, and other play pieces.