Golden Lion Tamarin Twins Born at Atlanta Zoo: These Are 'Especially Important Births'
Zoo Atlanta is doubly blessed.
The Georgia zoo recently announced that their endangered golden lion tamarins Blixx and Tiete welcomed twins on Feb 11.
Now a month old, the baby tamarins are doing well. According to Zoo Atlanta, the newborn golden lion tamarins weighed just two ounces each at birth. After an "exceptionally fragile" first month of life — which is common for the species — the twins are healthy and growing.
"The birth of any animal at Zoo Atlanta is cause for celebration, but Zoo Atlanta's long partnership in the conservation of this endangered species makes these especially important births that are crucial to the long-term viability of their species," Jennifer Mickelberg, Ph.D., the vice president of collections and conservation at zoo, said in a statement.
In the wild, golden lion tamarins can only be found in Brazil's Atlantic Coastal Forest, where just 2% of tamarins' natural habitat remains. While golden lion tamarins are listed as "Endangered" by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, their situation used to be much worse.
In a recent release, Zoo Atlanta shared that in the 1970s, the golden lion tamarin was on the brink of extinction, with only 200 tamarins left in the wild.
"In the 1990s and early 2000s, a successful cooperative breeding program led to the reintroduction of zoo-born tamarins, including two family groups from Zoo Atlanta, into the Atlantic Coastal Forest. The wild population, which ultimately rebounded to around 3,000 animals, is today largely descended from these reintroduced individuals," Zoo Atlanta wrote.
"Despite these successes, the golden lion tamarin population has experienced sharp and alarming declines in recent years, largely as a result of yellow fever. While habitat loss is a major factor for the species, yellow fever is believed to have decimated as much as a third of the remaining wild population," the release added.
With their numbers declining, wild golden lion tamarins may come to depend on their zoo brethren, like Zoo Atlanta's new arrivals, to protect the species from extinction yet again.
The twins seem like they are up to the task, thanks to the expert parenting of mom Blixx and dad Niete. Animal lovers have a chance of spotting the tamarin family together at Zoo Atlanta's KIDZone area.