Status: Critically Endangered
Range & Habitat
Cotton Tops are found only in northern Columbia. They live in wet tropical forests, moist forests in the Andes, and dry thorn savannah forests on the northern coastal plane.
Reproduction & Growth
Cotton Top Tamarins generally live in groups of 2-12 individuals in the wild. Most captive and wild groups appear to be monogamous, with only one reproductively active male and female. Exceptions to this trend have been found in wild populations. Only one female gives birth, while the other adult females in the group are reproductively suppressed. In captivity, females can give birth to twins every 28 weeks; in the wild, babies are born once a year. Everyone in the group helps care for the young. Fathers, brothers and sisters are all observed carrying infants on their back. This early infant care-taking experience is critical for the future reproductive success for both males and females because prenatal care in cotton tops is not instinctual, it is learned. If an animal is hand-reared or is removed from its family prior to carrying infants on its back, it will not successfully rear its own young. As adults, cotton tops only weigh 1-11/2 pounds and are eight inches from head to the base of the tail.
In the Wild: Fruits, insects and tree sap. In the Zoo: Fruits, vegetables, monkey biscuits, meal worms and marmoset diet.
The Cotton Top Tamarin is one of the most endangered primates in the world. In 1973, the species was declared endangered and importation was banned. Today the population is continually threatened by forest destruction to provide land for agricultural purposes and timber for fuel and housing. They are also threatened by the increase in the local pet trade.