The zoo celebrated the rare monkey’s birth on Twitter, explaining that the youngster, named Grace, was too weak to hold onto her mother, so staff stepped in and hand-reared the infant.
“Thanks to the incredible efforts of the keepers, she is now back with her family and thriving,” the zoo said.
Black lion tamarins are considerably smaller than the feline that gives them their name: the pint-sized monkeys, named because of their lion-like mane of hair, weight just between 1 and 2 pounds as adults.
Tamarins are a family of small monkeys found in South America. The black lion tamarin is an endangered species found only in a small portion of forest in southern Brazil, according to the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, which operates the zoo. They are also sometimes called the golden-rumped tamarin due to their easily identifiable “bright gold rump,” according to the New England Primate Conservancy. Most of the wild black lion tamarin population resides within an isolated region inside Morro do Diabo State Park in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, according to the conservancy. The species was thought to be extinct for almost 50 years until they were discovered again in 1972. The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies the monkeys as “endangered,” estimating that there are only around 1,600 black lion tamarins left in the wild due to deforestation and logging.
The tamarin’s endangered status makes the birth of a black lion tamarin at the Jersey Zoo all the more significant.
The zoo, which specializes in rare and endangered species, was the first to successfully breed a black lion tamarin in captivity in 1990, according to their website. Since then, the zoo has released some captive-bred black lion tamarins into the wild in Brazil.
In the video posted to the zoo’s Twitter, the zoo’s Head of Mammals, Dom Wormell, explained that as a female, Grace might “have 10-12 infants in her lifetime, which will go a long way to bolstering this captive breeding program for black lion tamarins.”
“We need to build that captive population so that hopefully, we can restore populations in the wild,” he said.