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Napoleon: Male, born on May 20, 2008.
Chip: Male, born June 30, 2009.
Alcide: Male, born November 3, 2010.
Pied tamarins usually go to sleep early, by mid- or late afternoon. If you don’t see them, particularly later in the day, they are probably asleep in the nest box you can see in the exhibit.
Rare Animal Conservation Center.
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The pied tamarin is a small monkey found in tropical forests, particularly secondary and edge forests, in a small area around the city of Manaus, Brazil. The head of adult pied tamarins is bald, with black skin and large ears, giving this tamarin a striking look. The fur on the shoulders and the front of the body is white, contrasting with brown back and hindquarters, shading to rust-red on the inner thighs and lower belly. The tail is usually blackish to pale brown above, reddish to orange below.
The Philadelphia Zoo was the first zoo in the U.S. to breed this species, which is Critically Endangered in the wild. Since the first births in 1994, many pied tamarins have been born at the Zoo, and we coordinate the zoo breeding program in the U.S.
A typical lifespan for pied tamarins is 8-9 years in zoos, although some individuals live into their late teens. Typical lifespan in the wild is not known, but is typically shorter than in zoos.
The pied tamarin lives in small family groups. In the wild, groups ranging from 2-10 individuals have been reported. In one study, a family group used an area of about 30 acres (12 ha), but home range probably varies across groups. Groups mark their area using secretions from scent glands, which they rub on branches. Scent-marking may also be important for communication within a group.
Pied tamarins are diurnal and arboreal. They make birdlike chirps and whistles.
Gestation has not been precisely determined, but appears to be more than 185 days (about 6 months), which is long for a monkey this small. In zoos births occur throughout the year. One unusual characteristic noted from zoo groups is the tendency for births to occur in the afternoon, rather than overnight after dark, which is typical for most marmosets and tamarins. Twins are usual for pied tamarins, as well as for other callitrichids (marmosets and tamarins), but females sometimes give birth to single babies or to triplets. Although bald as adults, newborn babies have white fur on the cheeks, forehead and top of the head, which they lose as they get older.
Pied tamarins have a head and body length of 8-11 in (20-28 cm), with a tail length of 13-17 in (33-43 cm). Males and females are the same size.
In zoos, pied tamarins usually weigh a little over 1 lb (454 g). Wild animals probably weigh little less on average, with a weight of 15 oz (420 g). Males and females are the same size.
In the wild, pied tamarins eat invertebrates like insects and spiders and a variety of fruits. They also have been seen to eat flowers and plant gums. In the Zoo, we feed the tamarins a variety of fresh fruits, insects like mealworms and crickets, and a primate “chow” specially formulated for marmosets and tamarins.
The pied tamarin has one of the smallest geographic ranges of the Amazonian primates. It is found only in a small area of Brazil, in the suburbs of and areas surrounding the city of Manaus, an area densely inhabited by humans and rapidly growing.
On the 2011 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Pied tamarin is listed as Endangered.
To learn more about the conservation efforts at the Philadelphia Zoo, click here.
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