Cotton-Top Tamarin

Cotton Top Tamarins (Saguinus oedipus)

Cotton Top Looks out of its nest box
Judith Wolfe

          Cotton Top Tamarin

Zoo collection includes:  5 cotton-tops  - 1 female and 4 males (mom, dad, and 3 sons)

Found in the wild:  Cotton Tops are found only in northern Columbia. They live in wet tropical forests, moist forest in the Andes, and dry thorn forest savannah on the northern coastal plane.

See Them at the Central Park Zoo: At the CPZ, you can see these beautiful little monkeys in their enclosure to the right of the entrance outside the Tropic Building.

Description: They weigh about one pound and are about 10 inches long. These New World monkeys  are small-bodied and easily recognized by the characteristic fan of long, white hair on their heads. They have very fine hair on their black-skinned faces such that their faces appear naked.

Zoo Habitat: Their enclosure is windowed and heated in the winter and screened in the summer. In the summertime you can easily hear their vocalizations.

What do they eat:  In the wild they eat fruit, vegetation, tree sap, insects, small lizards, and eggs. CPZ feeds them a primate diet and fruits,  vegetables, monkey biscuits, meal worms and marmoset diet.

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Life span: Cotton-top tamarins live for an average of 13.5 years, but the oldest recorded cotton-top tamarin lived to be 24 years old in captivity

Threats: 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.

Fun Facts: The typical daily routine of cotton-tops involves an alternating pattern of foraging, resting, and traveling. They sleep in a group and start their day about an hour and 20 minutes after dawn when the entire party leaves the sleeping tree at the same time. 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.


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