GOLDEN LION TAMARIN DAY BRINGS A NEW COMMITMENT
Partnership with Golden Lion Tamarin Association is a continuation of a conservation success story
ATLANTA – August 2, 2022 – On Golden Lion Tamarin Day, Zoo Atlanta announces a substantial new commitment to the Golden Lion Tamarin Association (Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado – AMLD) to protect the tiny icons of Brazil’s Atlantic Coastal Forest.
Zoo Atlanta and AMLD have a long history of partnership, dating to the 1980s. The fact that the golden lion tamarins exist in the wild today is owed largely to the work of these organizations and the international zoo community.
“The golden lion tamarin is a model story of the role of accredited zoos and aquariums in conservation,” said Raymond B. King. “Like the California condor and others that almost disappeared from the wild, golden lion tamarins are a species that would likely not be here today were it not for partnerships with zoos like Zoo Atlanta.”
Found only in this coastal rainforest, a little over 40 miles northeast of Rio de Janeiro, golden lion tamarins are named for their striking orange color and lion-like manes around their faces. Adults weigh only around 1.3 pounds. By the 1970s, habitat loss and the pet trade had reduced the wild population to only around 200 individuals. Conservationists swiftly acted to develop a comprehensive program to include habitat protection and restoration; translocation of individuals to safer habitats; educational outreach; and cooperative breeding programs in zoos. Importantly, in the 1980s and 1990s, golden lion tamarins born in zoological care, including tamarins from Zoo Atlanta, were introduced into the wild in Brazil. The introduction of these individuals helped to bolster the wild population, which now numbers around 2,500 and which resulted in a conservation status change from Critically Endangered to Endangered.
“While we celebrate successes like these, as with any other conservation project, this important work must be allowed to continue in the long term,” said Jennifer Mickelberg, PhD, Vice President of Collections and Conservation and the International Studbook Keeper for golden lion tamarins. “Even as we speak, new threats to this species demand our immediate attention.”
Despite successful efforts to set aside, preserve, and protect wild habitat, a 2019 yellow fever outbreak decimated the wild golden lion tamarin population by at least a third. AMLD, a non-governmental organization based in Brazil, worked with partners to vaccinate wild individuals and to work with the local human populations impacted by the outbreak.
“The Golden Lion Tamarin Association has demonstrated for 30 years that successful and sustainable conservation programs are those which have a multi-faceted approach that includes not just habitat preservation, but also community engagement, education, population management based on science, and partnership with other organizations,” Mickelberg said. “Zoo Atlanta is very proud to support an organization that exemplifies the fact that when approached correctly, conservation efforts can and do work.”
Zoo Atlanta is home to eight golden lion tamarins and has seen several important breeding successes over the years. The most recent of these are twins Ipa and Nema, born in 2021. Tune in to Zoo Atlanta Facebook and Instagram on August 2 for a special Golden Lion Day social media takeover featuring members of the Zoo’s tamarin population.
The partnership with AMLD is a commitment which strongly aligns with Zoo Atlanta’s Conservation Strategic Action Plan, which guides and enhances the Zoo’s efforts both locally and globally. The plan focuses on five primary goals through which Zoo Atlanta works to make a demonstrable, meaningful impact by committing resources, both financial and professional; leading and supporting conservation initiatives based on science; educating and empowering people to take conservation action; amplifying the Zoo’s conservation impact through collaboration; and developing, enhancing, and expanding Zoo Atlanta’s sustainability programs and practices.
Zoo Atlanta has an already considerable commitment to saving species and their habitats around the world. A partnership with Conservation South Luangwa, a Zambia-based nonprofit protecting African elephants and other species impacted by wildlife trafficking, was announced in 2018. Zoo Atlanta has contributed over $16 million in direct support for wild giant pandas. As one of only a select few zoos to contribute $10,000 a year to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Ape Taxon Advisory Group, the Zoo is a Platinum Supporter of a collective effort to preserve wild ape populations and to increase and sustain financial support from zoos for their conservation. Zoo Atlanta provides pro-bono headquarters space and resources for its longtime partner in gorilla conservation, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. Additional efforts include but are not limited to programs supported by the Zoo’s Mabel Dorn Reeder Conservation Endowment Fund and its Quarters for Conservation initiative, which contributes 25 cents of every general admission ticket to projects for wildlife.
Visit zooatlanta.org/conservation to learn more about conservation work at Zoo Atlanta.
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