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Critically Endangered Monkey Species Gets Two New Additions
Durrell's two new baby pied tamarins.
Credit: Colm Farrington

Three baby pied tamarins were born at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in the U.K. this week, and while one sadly did not survive, the other two are thriving.

The pied tamarin (Saguinus bicolor) is a primate species found in a restricted area in the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest. It has one of the smallest ranges of any primate and is now thought to be one of the most endangered monkeys in the Amazon.

Adult pied tamarins have bald faces, and the fronts of their bodies are covered in white fur, while their backs are covered in reddish-brown fur. They communicate with high chirps and bird-like whistles.

One of the surviving infants was seriously injured when born; Durrell's vet had to carry out emergency surgery to save it.

A long hand-rearing process, during which the keepers fed the babies with formula milk every two hours around the clock, has insured that both tamarins are doing well.

"The birth of these two infants is fantastic; it represents a great boost to the health of the captive population," said Durrell mammal keeper Jenna Pick.

In the wild, the species has become increasingly threatened due to its range; it is only found in and around the city of Manaus in Brazil. Over the last 10 years the city has expanded greatly impacting the forest habitat of the pied tamarins. Some tamarins are now isolated in tiny fragments within the city, with no hope of survival if nothing is done. Individuals are desperate to find new homes and new mates are often killed while crossing roads, or electrocuted on power lines, according to Durrell.

Pied tamarins are thought to be one of the most endangered monkeys in the amazon.
Pied tamarins are thought to be one of the most endangered monkeys in the amazon.
Credit: Comb Farrington

There are still pied tamarins in continuous forest north of the city, but another species, the red-handed tamarin, is now also being seen in what used to be the exclusive home of the pied tamarin.

Durrell currently has a breeding program to conserve these creatures and create a safety-net population. These two infants are a result of this campaign.

In addition to the difficulties the baby tamarins have already faced, their mother Eulalia rejected them at birth. Luckily, the babies, who have yet to be named, will be looked after by foster parents Flash (13 years old) and Elsa (12 years old) who have already been parents themselves.

To see video of the baby tamarins, and learn more about the species in general, follow this link: http://www.durrell.org/Home/Videos/Durrells-work-with-pied-tamarins/