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photo: Shaked Buchbout
Golden lion tamarin
Name: Golden lion tamarin
Scientific Name: Leontopithecus rosalia
Global Conservation Status: Endangered (EN)
In Israel: -
At the Zoo: one individual at the small animals building
In the Bible: monkeys appear in the bible only once: “Once every three years will a boat come from Tarshish, carrying gold and silver, ivory, monkeys, and parrots.” Kings 1, Chapter 10, Verse 22
Habitat and Distribution: Atlantic Forest, Brazil
Body Structure: length exclusive of tail is about 26 cm. Weight ranges between 500 to 600 grams. It is considered one of the larger types of marmosets. The fur is a golden light red, with its mane around its head earning it its golden name.
Diet: omnivore, mainly fruits and insects
Social Structure: lives in small family groups of 2 – 11 individuals. Within each group, including larger ones, there is generally only one breeding couple, however all the individuals in the group assist in raising the offspring, with the males playing a large role in caring for the offsprings, mainly carrying them while searching for food.
Activity cycle: active during the day
Threats in the wild: destruction of their natural habitat, illegally traded as pets or for research
photo: Zvi Schreiber
photo: Shai Ben Ami
In 1980, less than 100 individuals existed in the wild. Once this specie became at risk of extinction, nature conservation organizations decided to act, and through international cooperation established a project to protect the golden lion tamarin and its habitat, the Atlantic Forest.
An important part of the project is the breeding efforts in captivity, as well as reintroducing individuals to the wild. To that end, various zoos around the world have welcomed these rare tamarins, transferred by the national zoo in Washington D.C., in the hopes that the tamarins will breed and help increase their population in captivity and in the wild.
In 2015, roughly 2,600 Golden Lion Tamarins were counted in the wild. They were saved from extinction thanks to breeding programs at zoos and returned to their natural habitat. This number will hopefully ensure the tamarin’s survival, on condition that their natural habitat is preserved. In order to complement these efforts, there has been a public campaign among the local human population to encourage nature conservation and to join efforts to preserve this unique species.
Once the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo proved to meet the standards necessary to welcome the tamarins, a couple of tamarins were welcomed at the zoo’s small animals building in order to breed and increase the population in the wild and in captivity and at other zoos around the world.
Despite the tamarins’ small size, their territory spans an area of 400 dunams. This need limits the expansion of the population, which is spread across a small portion of forest. The transfer from one part of forest to another is difficult and often impossible, given the open agricultural fields or urban areas which separate the remnants of forest.