One of the golden lion tamarin infants born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo last week died this morning, July 3. It appears that the infant fell off one of its parents this morning. The other infant, also born last week on June 29, is doing well. Keepers had seen both babies being carried by their parents Izzy and Mo, and it appeared both were nursing regularly. Keepers will continue to monitor the surviving infant closely to ensure that it is healthy and developing normally.
Golden lion tamarins have high infant-mortality rates, with approximately half of infants dying before they reach 1 year old. It is not uncommon for tamarin babies to accidently fall off their parents while traversing branches. The Zoo’s habitat for the golden lion tamarins is designed especially for a family group with infants, but keepers took additional steps to create a baby-friendly exhibit—including draining pools, turning off waterfall features and limiting noise and unfamiliar staff in the habitat.
A necropsy (animal autopsy) may provide more information on the infant’s health.
Native to South America, golden lion tamarins are endangered social primates that live in groups of two to eight family members in the canopies of Atlantic coastal forests of southeastern Brazil. Their reddish-gold fur and mane gives them a striking appearance.
Visitors can see the golden lion tamarin family and the Zoo’s other pair of golden lion tamarins, Diogo and Julie, in the Small Mammal House every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.