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26/04/2019

Our latest arrival is worth its weight in gold

Our latest arrival is tiny but it is worth its weight in gold.

It is a golden lion tamarin that was born to mum, Missy, and dad, Dourado, and is just four inches from head to tail.

The infant is precious because it is part of a vital conservation programme to help safeguard the future of its species.

But it will be sometime before keepers at the Zoo know whether it’s a boy or a girl.

Shani Ratnayake, large mammals’ senior keeper, said: “Providing all goes well we won’t carry out a health check for six months. The health check allows us to give the animal a microchip, check organ function, determine gender and assess general body condition.

“If the youngster is confident and ventures away from mum and dad, we should be able to find out its weight in the next few months.”

For the next couple of months the tiny youngster will remain close to its mum and dad.

Shani said: “Apart from returning to mum for feeds it is spending most of its time with dad so he is having to do all the carrying.

“It’s normal for tamarin dads to take an active part in looking after youngsters, but Dourado is doing a lot more than usual.”

This latest birth means Bristol Zoo Gardens is now home to five golden lion tamarins.

In their native Brazil where people are destroying their Atlantic forest habitat, there are estimated to be around 3,200 golden lion tamarins left in the wild.

Golden lion tamarins are named after the miniature lion-like manes and live in trees foraging on invertebrates and fruits. They also opportunistically eat tree saps.

Brazil’s Atlantic coastal forests where they are found are disappearing due to logging, agriculture and industry which has put their future at risk.

However, thanks to zoos, golden lion tamarins have become one of the world’s major conservation success stories.

They were down-listed from Critically Endangered to Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature IUCN Red List in 2003 as a result of 30 years of conservation efforts.

About a third of the current wild population of this species are descendants of zoo-born individuals that were reintroduced into their native habitat in the early 1990s.

We are a conservation and education charity and relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work in the Zoo, but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning five continents.

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