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It’s All in the Family

Have you ever made a family tree? You know, the diagram that uses horizontal lines to connect siblings and vertical lines to connect parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on? Just like we make family trees for the individual people we’re related to, we can make family trees for related species, too. And do you know who would be on humans’ family tree? A group of animals called primates. 

Over 500 species of primates are recognized by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, and you can see representatives from each of the four major groups of primates when you visit the Zoo – prosimians (lemurs), monkeys (drills, colobus, guenons, golden lion tamarins), and apes (gorillas and orangutans). While non-human primates are our most recent evolutionary connections to the animal kingdom, they also represent some of Zoo Atlanta’s longest commitments to wildlife conservation. From squirrel-sized monkeys to the largest living apes, your Zoo has been working with partners across the globe to protect our closest wild relatives for decades. 

Zoo Atlanta has been actively involved in golden lion tamarin conservation for over 30 years in partnership with the Golden Lion Tamarin Association. In addition to providing scientific advice on population management plans to ensure long-term survival of the species in the wild, two family groups from Zoo Atlanta have been released into protected habitat in Brazil. After dropping to an estimated 200 individuals in the 1970s, wild populations now number around 2,500 and their conservation status has been downlisted from Critically Endangered to Endangered. Although threats to wild populations continue, zoos were integral to saving the species from extinction. 

Another way the Zoo participates in primate conservation efforts is through providing in-kind support. For example, Zoo Atlanta has been home to the U.S. operations of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund (DFGF) for more than 20 years. Providing pro-bono office space, IT support, and other administrative services allows the Fund to focus resources more effectively on their conservation efforts in Rwanda. Additionally, every gadget recycled at the Zoo through Gorillas on the Line generates donations to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. 

In addition to these long-term commitments to gorillas and golden lion tamarins, Zoo Atlanta has supported many other primate conservation projects over the years. Both the Quarters for Conservation program and the Zoo’s Mabel Dorn Reeder Conservation Endowment Fund have directed funds to projects for drills, one of the most endangered monkey species in Africa. These funds have also supported projects for orangutans, western lowland gorillas, and habitat protection programs that benefit many other primate species. 

None of these efforts would be possible without your support. So the next time you visit the Zoo, enjoy watching the animals, spending time with your companions, and knowing that you’re helping to make a difference for wildlife around across the globe. 

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl