14 Apr 2022

The cotton-top tamarin is one of the world’s most endangered primates with only 2,000 left in the wild.

The RARE baby cotton-top tamarin monkey arrived to first time parents Treat and Leo, measuring just 10cm from head to tail and weighing a mere 40g.

We’re overjoyed to hear the wonderful baby news, with cotton-top tamarins listed as Critically Endangered on the International Union of Conservation and Nature’s (IUCN) Red List. The tamarins have already undergone a large reduction in their numbers and are predicted to decline by a huge 80% in the next 20 years, making them one of rarest of all primate species.

The mini monkeys are native to a small area in northern Colombia but, sadly, only 5% of their original habitat now remains intact due to mass deforestation, while the illegal wildlife trade is another significant THREAT to their survival.

Our conservationists are part of a coordinated international effort, involving the world’s leading zoos, which is aiming to save the species from extinction.

“The cotton-top tamarin is an exquisite animal but sadly it’s one of the most endangered primate species on the planet.

It’s a highly threatened species because its wild habitat has been destroyed by commercial logging for the agriculture, paper and timber industries, and these miniature monkeys are also regularly found in the illegal wildlife trade.”

Nick Davis, Deputy Curator of Mammals.

Nick continued to say….

“It wasn’t that long ago that these miniature primates were seen as quite a common species, so their dramatic demise over the last few years shows just how a species thought to be safe can change so rapidly.

Due to their complex social and environmental needs, cotton-top tamarins should never be kept as pets. They’re highly intelligent animals that can live for around 25 years when safe in zoos.”

Peekaboo! A fluffy, critically endangered baby cotton-top tamarin is protectively carried around by dad, Leo.

They live in extended family groups of around eight individuals in which a dominant female suppresses the fertility of the other females in the group. When a group grows too large, a pair will then head off to start their own group.

Our primate experts say the new parents Treat and Leo have settled straight into family life.

Primate Keeper, Siobhan Ward stated:

“We strongly suspected that the mother, Treat, was pregnant from regular monitoring of her weight and seeing her belly swell. But it was a fantastic surprise nonetheless to see a tiny little ball of fluff clinging onto her back one morning!

The baby is far too tiny and a bit early on to determine gender at the moment. Both parents will carry the baby for around the next six months – but it’s actually dad who’s been doing most of the carrying so far, passing it to mum for feeds while he stays protectively close by. Both Treat and Leo have taken to parenthood brilliantly.

In order to help save the species we only recently started caring for them at the zoo again and so this is the first cotton-top tamarin to be born at Chester Zoo in 22 years. It’s incredibly special to be able to see the little one so soon after its birth and after opening its eyes for the first time to take in the world.”

Come and see our newest arrivals for yourself this Easter – they don’t stay little for long!


Your Visit

Your zoo ADVENTURE starts right here! Plan your BEST DAY and explore Chester Zoo. There’s plenty to do – so make the most of your day out.


Our Zoo

Find out more about our WONDERFUL zoo and all of the incredible animals, plants and FUN things to do here. Download our app or PDF map to help plan you day and find your way around when you get here.

Download our app or map