Golden Lion Tamarin in Brazil
The last several months have been very exciting for the Golden Lion Tamarin Association in Brazil. I was in Brazil in August working with the project and have some exciting updates to share!
Golden lion tamarins are native to a small area outside of Rio de Janeiro state in the Brazilian Atlantic Coastal forest. Only 2 percent of their habitat remains—a threat we are working hard to address. The project has many efforts going on to help restore forest and connect remaining forest fragments with forest corridors. These efforts require a lot of cooperation from the local community since much of the remaining forest and potential forest is on private lands. We also partner very closely with the local landowners who can grow seedlings that we can use for reforestation. During this trip to Brazil, I spent some time with one of our partner landowners. They are using their farm as needed for agriculture and livestock, but have dedicated a large part of their land to retain forest, habitat for the golden lion tamarins! During my visit, they took me through their nursery where they are growing thousands of native trees that will be used for reforestation. It is pretty exciting to think that all of these will be trees the tamarins can use one day! In fact, all of the seedlings used during the Olympics were from this region of Brazil.
Golden lion tamarins nearly went extinct in the 1970s, and there are many efforts to help protect this species, their habitat, and all the other wildlife that lives there. Anytime I have an opportunity to see a golden lion tamarin in the wild, it is a special treat! Thanks to many partnerships, support, and a lot of hard work, the tamarin population has increased. Reintroducing zoo-born tamarins is one way that we have increased the population. During this visit to Brazil, I checked in on a few of the groups who are descendants from the reintroduced population. One of the oldest living golden lion tamarins in the wild is 14 years old! In zoos, GLTs can live to be 20, but in the wild, they usually live to be around 10 or 11. This individual is a first generation “Brazilian.” His mom was actually born at Brookfield Zoo!
The Golden Lion Tamarin Association is a nonprofit organization working to protect golden lion tamarins and their
habitat. We have celebrated successes such as increasing the population in the wild to around 3,000 individuals. But we still have a lot of work to do as so little habitat remains, and what does remain is fragmented. Reforestation and creating forest connections will be critical for the species’ survival. With support from Quarters for Conservation, the Golden Lion Tamarin Association can continue to do the important work that is saving these monkeys from extinction!
Jennifer Mickelberg, PhD
Senior Director of Collections and Conservation