10's company! Potter Park Zoo welcomes two more endangered cotton-top tamarin monkeys

·2 min read

LANSING — A big, happy family of endangered monkeys at the Potter Park Zoo has gotten a bit bigger.

Yuri and LG, the zoo's elder pair of cotton-top tamarins, have given birth to their fourth litter in four years, according to a press release. It brings the total of endangered monkeys at the zoo to 10 — about 5% of those residing at zoos in the entire United States.

Cotton-top tamarins are among the world's most endangered primates, with just 6,000 remaining in the wild and about 200 at zoos nationwide, the release said.

The zoo has been chosen to breed the pair by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan, an organization that aims to "ensure healthy and genetically diverse zoo populations," according to the release.

"Due to deforestation for farming, logging, and oil palm plantations, the cotton-top tamarin’s lowland forest home has been reduced to a mere five percent of its former range," the release said.

The species has a distinctive look, known for its bushy white head of hair.

A baby cotton-top tamarin monkey sleeps on an elder one's head at the Potter Park Zoo in Lansing.
A baby cotton-top tamarin monkey sleeps on an elder one's head at the Potter Park Zoo in Lansing.

According to the release, cotton-top tamarins have a unique family hierarchy. Parents share responsibilities raising children with their kids in a practice known as "alloparenting," which helps take some of the burden off of mom while giving children experience for the future.

"The zoo’s animal care team reports that the two babies are actively nursing and observing their environment more and more each day," the release said. "The older siblings have been seen regularly carrying the babies, who will become independent at around five months of age."

Elder cotton-top tamarin monkeys pose for a photo at Potter Park Zoo in Lansing.
Elder cotton-top tamarin monkeys pose for a photo at Potter Park Zoo in Lansing.

Carolyn Schulte, a zookeeper in the carnivore and primate department, said that the mom is 15 years old — nearing the life span of a cotton-top tamarin — and the dad is about eight.

Schulte said the dad has been a very hands-on father, so much so that mom had to tell him to back off.

"Day one, we saw him attempt to take babies from mom and she had to move away and yell at him," Schulte said. "Like, 'the babies really need to be with me right now.' But he loves carrying the babies ... he seems to really want to be involved in the parenting as early as possible."

The baby monkeys, who Schulte said are about two weeks old, can be seen in the zoo's reptile and small mammal house.

Contact reporter Jared Weber at 517-582-3937 or jtweber@lsj.com.

This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: Potter Park Zoo welcomes two more endangered monkeys

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