The Golden Lion Tamarin Conservation Program
Photograph: Shaked Bochbut
Photograph: Shai Ben-Ami
Photograph: Tzvi Shreiber
This beautiful little primate (Leontopithecus rosalia) lives in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. In the early 1980’s only 100 were left in the wild as a result of habitat destruction. An urgent international captive breeding program was established out of Washington, D.C. in the United States. Because this species was Critically Endangered, only zoos that met stringent standards were allocated individuals for breeding. The Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem met these exacting standards and received a pair of Golden Lion Tamarins.
In addition to the captive breeding program, conservation organizations all over the world joined forces to preserve and rehabilitate what little remains of the Atlantic Forest for the purpose of reconstructing this natural habitat. For over three decades, scientists working with Brazil’s Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado (AMLD; Golden Lion Tamarin Association) have been reintroducing zoo-born golden lion tamarins and translocating tamarins rescued from threatened forests. AMLD also implemented long-term conservation education, sustainable agriculture and reforestation programs with local communities in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. Over time, illegal capture of tamarins and deforestation dropped to nearly zero in the region. The number of tamarins estimated living in the wild climbed slowly to 1,000 in 2000, and to 1,600 in 2005. In 2003, the IUCN conservation status for the species was changed from “critically endangered” to “endangered”.