Please consider sponsoring one of Primarily Primates’ smallest residents, Junior, who weighs in at less than one pound. But don’t tell this cotton-top tamarin that. She thinks she is large and in charge—insisting on being fed first...before the other eight cotton-top tamarins at PPI. If that doesn’t happen she will let you know she’s upset with her loud chirping.
Junior was among several cotton-top tamarins who arrived at PPI from a biomedical research facility. Before 1974, when export from their native Colombia was banned, tamarins were often exported for the pet trade and zoos. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, it is estimated that 20,000-30,000 were exported to the United States for biomedical research. They were often used for colon cancer research, many selectively bred so they would have a higher likelihood to develop cancer so scientists could study the disease.
Today cotton-top tamarins are listed as Critically Endangered due to severe reduction in population, estimated to be greater than 80 percent over the past three generations (18 years) due to destruction of habitat for agricultural activities. Current population estimates for the species are 6,000 individuals.
Speaking of habitat, PPI is in the midst of constructing a new tamarin area, which will include more green space and a special evaporative water cooling system, as well as a heater for when the Texas temperatures cool down. Junior is looking forward to her new living space, where she will continue to partake in her favorite activity, foraging for treats.
Junior and the other tamarins at PPI are distinguished from other monkeys by their small size, modified claws rather than nails on all digits except the big toe, the presence of two as opposed to three molar teeth in either side of each jaw and by the occurrence of twin births.