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  • The Griffin

Animal of the Week: the Golden Lion Tamarin

By Sara Umbrell, Layout Director

This week’s animal of the week is one many of you may recognize from childhood trips to the zoo, and that is the golden lion tamarin! These guys are known for their reddish-gold color, and are small primates — only weighing around 17 to 24 ounces. They occupy the Atlantic coastal line of Southeastern Brazil, and spend most of their time hidden up in the canopy (up to 100 feet off the ground). Contrary to their small size, these tamarins are actually extremely territorial and will use combinations of scent markings and vocalizations to defend what is theirs.

Golden lion tamarins are omnivores and will eat almost anything smaller than them which can consist of fruits, insects and small invertebrates. As a primate species, they’re very social animals and live in groups of up to eight members, with one breeding pair, their offspring and sometimes other relatives. After a juvenile is born, they stay with their mother for about a month by clinging to her, and are eventually weaned at about three months. Females reach sexual maturity at about 18 months, males hit it around two years. The first year is the hardest for these little guys, and only 50% will make it past this point. If they do, tamarins can live up to eight years in the wild, but up to 20 when in human care.

The golden lion tamarin is considered endangered, but prior to 2003 they were considered critically endangered and were revitalized through intensive conservation efforts. Hopefully their populations continue to stay rising and steady.

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