Can you see the monkeys,
whose homes had been removed?
With logging halted, thanks to zoos
their numbers have improved.
The golden lion tamarin is a small, golden monkey from the Atlantic Forest of South America. Tamarins play a key role in the health of the rainforest by spreading the seeds of 96 different fruits they feed on. The survival of the golden lion tamarin is thus vital for the survival of many endangered plant species.
Unfortunately, the Atlantic Forest where the golden lion tamarin lives has undergone substantial logging, with only 8% of the original forest remaining. This threat was particularly severe for the golden lion tamarin because its range was already extremely restricted. By 1965, only a few pockets of suitable habitat remained for the species and there may have been as few as 150 golden lion tamarins surviving in the wild.
The seriousness of this threat sparked the formation of the "Golden Lion Tamarin Conservation Program" by the National Zoo in Washington, DC. Through this program, the tamarin's habitat was purchased and restored, allowing captive-bred individuals to be released into the wild. By 2000, about 350 tamarins had been released into the wild from zoos. Now, the total wild population is probably about 2000 individuals in four isolated reserves, with at least one third of these descended from captive-bred animals. A further 500 golden lion tamarins continue to breed in 150 zoos across the globe. The survival of the species depends on the continued protection and restoration of the Atlantic Forest.
Range & Habitat
The golden lion tamarin's historical range is poorly understood, although it probably always lived across a restricted area of the state of Rio de Janeiro within the Atlantic Forest of eastern Brazil. This region consists of tropical coastal rainforest which has been significantly reduced to many tiny forest fragments incapable of supporting healthy populations. Golden lion tamarins now hang on in just four small pockets of rainforest.
How Can I Help?
You can buy a ticket for one of the 150 zoos around the world that participate in the captive breeding of golden lion tamarins. You can also donate to Save the Golden Lion Tamarin, a charity which is helping to protect and connect wild habitat for the golden lion tamarin. Click on the button below to find out more!