As a global leader in biodiversity, preservation and animal expertise, Zoo Atlanta works to save species and their wild environments around the globe. This is achieved by partnering with conservation organizations to expand reach and competency. Check out this year’s Education Conservation Poster for curricular connections and information about how Zoo Atlanta helps preserve the wild population of golden lion tamarins!
Use the poster to connect to your curriculum!
Next Generation Science Standard: 3-LS1-1 | Georgia Standard of Excellence: SKL1a, S1L1, S2L1, S3L1, S4L1, S7L1
Use this year’s Education Conservation Poster to see the engineering design process in action, as Zoo Atlanta partners with Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado (AMLD) biologists in Brazil to help an endangered primate called the golden lion tamarin. Take students through the design process, using the Zoo Atlanta page and the poster infographic.
Start by looking at the top, center image of the poster. You will see a group of tamarins resting together on a tree branch. Allow students to make observations about the group of tamarins. After observing the poster picture, allow students to make inferences such as, “I think they live in groups because they all look like they are hanging out together.” Students should ask questions about what sparks curiosity. Questions can be recorded in science journals or STEM notebooks.
Golden lion tamarins are named for their thick golden manes, which resemble those of African lions. They are small primates with long tails. Weighing just over one pound, these squirrel-sized primates are very sociable, living in family groups of five to 10 individuals. Tamarins are arboreal, meaning they live in trees, avoiding predators that walk on the ground.
Explore the basic needs of golden lion tamarins. Check out the diet and habitat requirements on Zoo Atlanta’s animal pages. See some up-close images and video clips of tamarins. Students should observe physical characteristics and behaviors, drawing pictures or writing observations in their science journals. Students can complete a sketch of a rainforest habitat and label items that meet the animals’ basic needs for food, water, and shelter. The rainforest is Earth’s oldest living ecosystem. Students should add other animals or plants that live in the rainforest and think about their relationship to tamarins. For example, large snakes, raptors, and cats are considered predators, and the tamarin would be the prey.
Questions from Zoo Atlanta Animal Pages:
Q: What is the diet of golden lion tamarins?
A: Golden lion tamarins are omnivores. They eat a variety of fruits, insects, other invertebrates, small vertebrates and eggs.
Q: What is the lifespan of a golden lion tamarin?
A: Ten years in the wild, but much longer in zoos. The record is 31 years.
Fun fact: It is rare for tamarins to have just one baby. Tamarins usually have twins. This adaptation helps strengthen population numbers.
Grades PreK-5: Animal Adaptations
Run, jump, crawl and climb – animals have amazing adaptations to move, hide and stay alive. Tour the Zoo and observe animals in action to learn what makes them unique and maybe even similar to us. GSE: CD-SC3; SKL2; S1L1; S2L1; S3L1; S4L1; S5L2 NGSS: K-LS1; 1-LS1; 2-LS4; 3-LS4; 4-LS1; 5-PS3
Grades 6-8: We’re All Connected
From the mighty oaks to the tiny terrapins, we are all connected on this Earth. During your tour, learn about the different roles that animals play in their ecosystems, and find out why biodiversity is so important. GSE: S6E4; S7L4; S8P2 NGSS: MS-LS2; MS-LS4
NGSS: 2-LS4-1, 3-LS3-1, 3-LS4-3 | GSE: S4L1d, S7L1
In the 1970s, it was estimated that only about 200 golden lion tamarins were living in the wild. There were two reasons for this. Because of their small size and distinctive look, which many people find adorable, golden lion tamarins have been captured for the exotic pet trade for many years. Exporting tamarins is illegal, but it still happens.
The most devastating cause for population decrease is extreme habitat loss. The Atlantic Coastal Forest has been cleared for agriculture since the 1500s. After so many years of deforestation, only 2% of the original forest remains. In addition, a major highway divides the forest. The tamarins cannot safely cross. These highways create isolated patches, making it impossible for tamarins to move around to find food or a mate. Conservationists knew that a creative solution was needed.
Classroom debate idea: Golden Lion Tamarin or Golden Retriever?
Students gather evidence and examples to argue their viewpoint. Include animal behavior and animal needs as evidence.
Students write a persuasive paragraph or essay for or against owning a pet golden lion tamarin.
Class discussion: How do your choices impact wildlife and people?
In addition to the variety of programs offered at Zoo Atlanta that enhance your students’ science knowledge, we can bring the Zoo to you! From adaptations to classification, we have you covered! Learn all about wildlife and wild places without leaving your classroom. Our ZooMobile Outreach connects students to animals and conservation while complementing your classroom curriculum. All programs are aligned with the Georgia Standards of Excellence and include live animal encounters and engaging activities. ZooMobile Outreach programs are designed for Pre-K to 12th grade. Make the most of the Zoo’s visit by booking up to three 45-minute programs for up to 60 students.
Grades 9-12 – Endangered Species will enhance any environmental science class’s understanding of biodiversity and the issues facing wildlife and wild places. Students will engage in real-world conversations about biodiversity, learn how they can make a difference, and will have the opportunity to meet an animal ambassador that faces many threats in the wild.
We look forward to seeing you at the Zoo this school year and hope that we can bring the Zoo to you! For more information and to reserve your program, visit https://zooatlanta.org/program-type/zoo-mobile-outreach/.
NGSS: K-ESS3-3 | GSE: S3L2, S4L2, S1L1
Ask students, “How can we connect two habitats with a busy highway running through them?”
Because golden lion tamarins seldom leave their treetop homes, they needed a special type of wildlife crossing. Look at the top right picture on the Education Conservation Poster. What do you notice? The wildlife crossing is covered with soil and trees to look like an extension of the forest. It is called a forest corridor. The plan was to connect the broken habitats. Local government and communities are additionally working to restore some of the forest.
Take a trip to the Zoo without getting on a bus!
Learn more about wildlife crossings in the Hope for Habitats Virtual Zoo Challenge! Students learn how habitats are being connected close to home and how simple changes make a big difference to wildlife. Featured species are terrapins and hedgehogs.
When you cannot visit the Zoo, connect with us and enrich your curriculum virtually. Harnessing technology as the vehicle, connect your students to animals, careers, conservation, and all things Zoo Atlanta through a Virtual Field Trip. Aligned with the Georgia Standards of Excellence (GSE) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), options are available for engaging students in STEM concepts as they learn about Zoo Atlanta’s animal ambassadors and conservation initiatives.
All programs are facilitated by a Zoo Atlanta Educator through an online platform and include standards-based curriculum to supplement the program. Programs are designed for classes of up to 30 students. Programs may be adaptable to other grade levels with advance notice at time of booking.
NGSS: 2-LS4-1, MS-LS2-2, HS-LS2-8 | GSE: S7L4, SEC3
Zoo Atlanta partners with Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado (AMLD), an organization that has worked for over 30 years to protect golden lion tamarins in their natural habitat. Two groups of golden lion tamarins from Zoo Atlanta were reintroduced to the wild in Brazil during the reintroduction program that ran from 1984 – 2000.
The reintroduction of tamarins, along with construction of forest corridors, has increased the golden lion tamarin chances for success. But how do we really know if the plan is working? With the plan implemented, data must be collected to find out if the tamarins are moving between areas and making use of the corridors. Some wildlife corridors in other parts of the world have cameras to see which animals cross, but it is more difficult with the tamarins. They travel through the closed canopy, about 10 to 30 meters off the ground, and are very difficult to spot.
Radio telemetry is a technology that allows AMLD biologists to observe, and sometimes help, tamarins. Tamarins are fitted with a special, lightweight collar that “beeps” a signal at a frequency that cannot be heard by tamarins or people. This allows biologists to track movement and find the families. When a yellow fever outbreak hit in 2016, this technology saved many tamarins. Without radio transmitters, it could take up to two months to locate golden lion tamarin families. Because the monkeys were already being tracked, swift action was able to be taken. Golden lion tamarins are the first non-human primate species to be vaccinated against yellow fever.
Learn more about radio telemetry by visiting
At Zoo Atlanta, observation and monitoring the health of all animals is taken seriously. Students can practice observational skills and learn about the research tools found at the Zoo by participating in a Zoo Challenge. Complete an ethogram observational study with gorillas or flamingos. Check out the page to find out more!
NGSS: K-ESS3-3, HS-LS2-7, | GSE: S2E3, S5L4, S4L1c
Dedicated conservation efforts by Brazil and organizations like Zoo Atlanta have been successful in bringing golden lion tamarins back from the brink of extinction. The population has grown from 200 individuals to about 2,500. Within the wild population, about a third are descendants of golden lion tamarins raised in human care. In 2003, the species was downgraded from critically endangered to endangered. Brazil has set aside land for forests, and the once unknown primate is now featured on the new 20 Reais (currency) note. Ecotourists can travel the forests, looking for flashes of gold in the trees while experiencing the biodiversity of the Atlantic Coastal Forest of Brazil.
Zoo Atlanta works to protect wildlife and wild places around the world. You can read about 11 different projects supporting everything from tiny bees to elephants on our Conservation Projects page. You can help by visiting the Zoo, or you or your class may want to sponsor an animal. Choose from seven species on our Animal Sponsorship page.
Helping wildlife doesn’t necessarily require a significant investment of time or resources. Below are some easy, free ways to help protect wildlife and their habitats.
- Choose to reuse: Join a social media group or download the free Buy Nothing ™ app to participate in a local gift economy through the Buy Nothing™ Project. Learn more here.
- Keep wildlife wild: Admire wildlife from a safe distance and do your research before intervening if you think a wild animal needs help.
- Leave No Trace: When you spend time in nature, leave it just as clean (or even cleaner) than you found it by making sure you only dispose of things in trash, recycling, or compost bins. Learn more about the Leave No Trace principles here.
- Skip the straw: Unless you need one for medical purposes, declining plastic straws is an easy way to reduce your ecological footprint. Learn more about the impact of plastic pollution here.
- Share what you learn – Whether it’s online or in-person, share what you learn about wildlife and tell others about the conservation actions you’re committed to taking. When posting on social media, don’t forget to use #OnlyZooATL to share with us, too!
Read about other animal success stories in endangered species recovery.
Learn more when you book a 9th – 12th ZooMobile. Students will play a game of Conservation Jenga that focuses on threats to habitats, learning what actions can be taken to turn things in a positive direction. Students will be provided scenarios and discuss positive or negative outcomes on topics like eco-tourism. Grades 9-12 Endangered Species will enhance any environmental science class’s understanding of biodiversity and the issues facing wildlife and wild places.