This week Auckland Zoo welcomed two critically endangered cotton-top tamarin babies to the world.

Born 7pm Tuesday 11 June, it has been 16 years since the Zoo has bred cotton-tops.

Primate’s team leader Amy Robbins says that, although it is still early days, both babies and parents are doing well. "We’re all buzzing about the new arrivals."

It’s exciting to have our cotton top parents starting to build their troop, and being a critically endangered species makes the babies arrival even more special.

"They’re showing signs of being great parents, with Mum feeding and Dad carrying them. We won’t know the sex of the pair for some time, but the Zoo will be doing updates on their progress," she says.

The new troop are still adjusting to the world, but Amy says they’re becoming more and more confident, so visitors may get a glimpse of the two new babies during their next visit.

The Zoo’s cotton-top parents, a male from Germany and a female from Italy, have settled in well since their arrival in December and share their Rainforest home with three female agouti’s.

Cotton-tops are critically endangered in the lowland forests of South America having lost 80% of their original habitat over the last 40 years to deforestation for agriculture, paper and timber supplies.

For this reason our cotton-tops have an important advocacy role at Auckland Zoo – to help visitors connect with the species and be a voice for their wild cousins.

You can help their cause by buying only rainforest friendly products – look for the Forest Stewardship Council logo on all paper, timber and toilet paper products for a certification you can trust to protect our forests for future generations.

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Cotton-top tamarin facts

  • The cotton-top tamarin is a small New World monkey weighing less than 0.5 kg.
  • Cotton-top tamarins are arboreal (tree dwelling) in wet tropical forests or dry thorn forests in northern Colombia.
  • They live in the mid to lower levels of the forest and have an important role as a seed disperser within their ecosystem.
  • These primates live in family groups of about 15 animals.
  • The species are critically endangered due to large-scale deforestation and habitat destruction, as the Columbian northwestern lowland forests have been reduced to 5% of their previous area.
  • It is estimated that there are only 6,000 individuals left in the wild.