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Home Animals Cape May County Zoo Welcomes Endangered Cotton-Top Tamarin Baby

Cape May County Zoo Welcomes Endangered Cotton-Top Tamarin Baby


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A baby cotton-top tamarin was born on August 3rd at the Cape May County Zoo. The monkey was born to the couple Cordelia and Lil’ T. These primates are critically endangered and are found usually in the rainforests of Colombia in South America.

cotton-top tamarin
(Image Source: Cape May County Zoo)

Jean Whalen, the program coordinator at the Zoo, told The Koala, “The baby cotton-top is doing very well!  This is Cordelia and Lil’ T’s (Tamtam’s) first baby, so they are new to everything.  They have picked up parenting very well! At first, mom carried the baby exclusively so that it could nurse regularly.  At about 1.5 weeks old, dad started helping to carry the baby, which is what should be expected.”

Talking about their parenting skills, Whalen also added, “Tamarins exhibit alloparenting. Which means all family members help carry and raise the infants. Lil T will give the baby back to Cordelia for it to nurse, then carry it again to give mom a break. Carrying the baby is a lot of work! A newborn weighs around 15% of mom’s body weight, which would be like a 150lb woman carrying a 25lb infant without ever being able to put it down! We have noticed the baby is awake more often (less napping) and calling for mom when it is hungry.”

baby cotton top
(Image Source: Cape May County Zoo)

The newborn’s mother, Cordelia, has been at the Cape May County Zoo for a few years. While the male Lil’ T has been there since June of 2019. There are only around 6,000 Cotton-top tamarins left in the wild.

The veterinarian at the zoo, Alex Ernst said in a statement, “The baby is strong and healthy and will be carried closely by both Mom and Dad for several weeks until it is strong enough to venture out on its own. The gender has not been identified because the baby is held by the mother. They are out and about in their habitat and can be viewed by the public. Visitors will have to look closely at Mom to see the baby as she will be holding onto it very tight.”

cotton-top tamarin
(Image Source: Cape May County Zoo)

The baby cotton-top tamarin is the first of its species born at the zoo in almost 17 years.


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