Taronga Zoo welcomes first cotton-top tamarin in 10 years

Meet Taronga Zoo’s newest addition – one of the world’s tiniest and rarest primates, a mohawk-sporting baby cotton-top tamarin.

The newborn, whose sex and name are yet to be determined, is the only one of its kind born at Taronga Zoo in 10 years.

It’s also a first for doting parents, Esmeralda and Diego.

“Diego is playing a very active role in caring for the baby. We usually see the baby on his back during the day, so mum must be doing the night shift,” primate keeper Alex Wright said.

Zoo keepers report that the tiny primate, born on December 10, has developed a taste for boiled eggs and has started to venture out on its own.

“We’re beginning to see the baby climbing off mum or dad’s back to explore,” Ms Wright said.

“It’s started to run along tree branches and it’s grabbing food out of mum’s hands.

“It really seems to enjoy eggs, along with little pieces of carrot and sweet potato.

“The baby does have an impressive mohawk, but it’s quite flat at this early stage.

“Once it gets a bit older we’d expect that little mo to really grow.”

Native to forests in north-western Colombia, cotton-top tamarins usually weigh less than 500 grams as adults and have a distinctive crest of white hair.

They are classified as a critically endangered species, with fewer than 6000 thought to be left in the wild.

Although a target of the illegal pet trade in South America, the primate’s main threat comes from deforestation, which is estimated to have claimed 75 per cent of its original habitat.

Taronga has partnered with wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC to help protect cotton-top tamarins and other targets of illegal wildlife trade through its Wildlife Witness app.

As published in the Sydney Morning Herald, January 2017. View the full article here

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