Golden Lion Tamarin


Golden Lion Tamarin at the Brandywine ZooThe Brandywine Zoo has two golden lion tamarins. Huey, was born at the Brandywine Zoo on November 19, 2007. He has several black spots in the middle of his tail; short cheek tufts  and little facial discoloration. His brother, Armond Junior AKA “AJ” 1.0 was also born at the Brandywine Zoo on April 15, 2007. He is darkest in color, has long tufts of curled hair on either side of his head; his tail is mostly orange.

Lowland seasonal rain forest of the Atlantic coast of Brazil

Golden lion tamarins live in the lowland, coastal rain forest region in southeast Brazil.

Wild: Omvivores- spiders, snails, small lizards, eggs, plant exudates (gums), flowers, nectar, small birds, fruits, and vegetables.
Under Human Care: Commercial marmoset diet, banana, pear, eggs, primate salad, leaf-eater biscuits, grapes

They have fiery orange or red fur over their entire bodies including long hairs that form a striking mane on their cheeks, throat, and ears surrounding their dark, hairless faces. Lion tamarins are the largest of the callitrichids. They have claws that allow them to cling vertically to tree trunks and perhaps aiding in walking, running, leaping and bounding quadrupedally along smaller branches int he forests in which they live.

6-10 inches (15-25 cm) in length tail of about 12-15 inches (32-40 cm)

17-24 ounces (482-680 grams)

Wild: 15 years
Under Human Care: up to 25 years

Once, golden lion tamarins were captured and sold as pets. Their rapid decline in numbers has thwarted many people’s desires for these exotic pets. Although wild populations are improving from captive-bred individuals (1/3 of wild species originated from captive stock), they are still threatened, and continuing conservation is essential to ensure that the enormous successes thus far are not undone.


They normally breed twice a year, between September and March. Females give birth, usually to twins, after a gestation of 130 to 135 days. At birth, the golden lion tamarin is fully furred with eyes open. It clings to its mother for the first few weeks and nurses for a period of 90 days. At about 5 weeks, they begin to experience things independently. There is one breeding pair per group. The whole group rears the young together, although the majority is done by the father.

Diurnal, active during the day. They sleep from dusk until sunrise, often times with a mid-day nap. They have a quad-gait, meaning they use all fours to get around. They run and walk through the trees and spring and leap between branches and vines.

They are a social species. In the wild, they are found in groups of 2-8, often made up of family members. These tamarins are territorial and defend their area with scent markings and vocalized threats.  They groom themselves much like other primates, however, males mainly groom females.


Their rich color is thought to be a product of sunlight exposure and the presence of carotenoids in their diet

A special characteristic of this group of primates (callitrichids) is their tendency to give birth to twins.

Golden lion tamamrins have very distinct vocalizations, including about 17 specific calls.

What are AZA Zoos doing for Golden Lion Tamarins?

GLTs are part of a Yellow level SSP conservation breeding program managed by the New World Primate TAG. As of 2019, currently 164 GLTs are living at 65 AZA facilities. The total global population in zoos is 520 at 165 facilities. [8] They are also managed for a reintroduction program with Brazil, where tamarins bred in AZA facilities are sent down to Brazil for release. Brandywine Zoo participated in this program in the 1990s, and we sent one individual to the reintroduction program. Brandywine Zoo and BZ AAZK have supported Save the Golden Lion Tamarins, a GLT conservation organization in Brazil, financially for many years.

Golden Lion Tamarin loud at the Brandywine Zoo