We're welcoming twin golden lion tamarins!
Twin golden lion tamarins have been born at Bristol Zoo Gardens, helping an international effort to safeguard the future of their species.
The tiny babies, who weigh just 50gms each, arrived on one of the hottest nights of the year when temperatures remained at more than 20C.
But the pair, who live with their mum Missy and dad Dourado, in the heart of the Zoo, are thriving.
Shani Ratnayake, Mammals Team Leader, said: “They are really doing well, suckling and growing strong.”
She said the other grown-up golden lion tamarins in the six-strong group were taking it in turns to help look after the youngsters.
“They are helping to carry them around and take them back to their mum when they want to feed. It’s good experience for them all.”
Missy has given birth to twins four times now but this is the first occasion that both infants have survived.
Shani said: “She has been nibbling their tails but this is quite common behaviour for golden lion tamarins.”
The twins’ birth is important because they are part of a vital European breeding programme to help protect golden lion tamarins.
Shani said: “It’s great and it’s lovely to have something positive to talk about during these difficult days.”
Visitors to the Zoo stand a good chance of seeing Missy and her new babies if they stand with their backs to the otter enclosure and look
towards the nearest island.
Shani said: “It’s a perfect viewing spot. They are often in that part of their enclosure.”
It will be some time before keepers at the Zoo are able to identify the sex of the little golden lion tamarins.
And it will be a year before they are fully grown – at present including their tails they are just 10cm (4ins) long.
Golden lion tamarins are named after their miniature lion-like manes, and live in trees foraging on invertebrates and fruits. They also opportunistically eat tree sap.
Brazil’s Atlantic coastal forests where they are found are disappearing due to logging, agriculture and industry which 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 Red List 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.
Bristol Zoological Society, which operates Bristol Zoo Gardens and Wild Place Project, is a conservation and education charity and relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work at Wild Place and Bristol Zoo, but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning five continents.
In March, the Society launched an appeal to ensure the future of its work ‘saving wildlife together’. To find out more, or to make a donation, visit the appeal page.
Visitors to Bristol Zoo are now asked to pre-purchase and members asked to pre-book tickets in advance, online, here.
Photograph by Miriam Haas