In 2020, the Auckland Zoo successfully raised a pair of golden lion tamarin twins, and they’re absolute knock-outs. Truly, they may be the most heartbreakingly beautiful creatures I’ve ever seen. I realize they’re critically endangered, but are we 100% sure I can’t have one…? Seriously, though, the dedication of this remarkable primatologist is truly inspiring. She was getting up and coming to work every couple of hours for feedings, just like you would with your own baby. The story was so compelling, I just had to do a bit of research on the animals.
Weighing less than 2 lbs in adulthood, the golden lion tamarin, A.K.A. golden marmoset, is an endangered species, found high up in the trees in rainforests in the lowland tropical forests of Brazil. A combination of deforestation, agriculture, and development resulted in the loss of all but 5% of their original habitat, with their entire population estimated at about 200 by the late 1970s. In the early 1990s, the Golden Lion Tamarin Association was founded, and began buying up land to create connected conservation areas. Conservation efforts also included the construction of tamarin bridges which allow the beautiful primates to pass above major roadways instead of trying to cross them. So smart!
There are now estimated to be about 2,500 golden lion tamarins in the wild and roughly 500 in captivity, spread across about 150 zoos around the world. One of the main reasons the breed came back so well from near extinction is that they evolved to nearly always have twins. Nature is so clever!