December 4, 2003
Contact: Sarah Taylor 202-673-0208
National Zoo Announces Birth of Golden-Headed Lion Tamarins
The Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park welcomed
twin golden-headed lion tamarins on October 31 to its
Small Mammal House. This endangered species has been
a part of the National Zoo animal collection for the
last two decades, but this is the first birth since
Both parents participate in rearing the infants, and they can be seen riding on the backs of either mother or father. All seem to be healthy and very active.
Unlike most primates, tamarins almost always give birth to twins. Weighing approximately 65 grams (.14 lbs) at birth, each twin represents nearly 10 percent of the mother’s entire body weight – which compares to an average-sized woman giving birth to twins – 12 lbs. each!
Golden-headed lion tamarins are one of four tamarin species that are native to the Atlantic coastal rain forest of Brazil. Only approximately 550 of these animals exist in captivity, 100 in North American zoos.
Founded in 1889, the Smithsonian's National Zoological
Park exhibits living animal and plant collections that
celebrate, study and protect the diversity of animals
and their habitats. Each year, nearly three million
visitors enjoy the 163-acre park, which is free of
charge. The National Zoo is a leading research center
for conservation and reproductive biology, with scientists
working at the Zoo as well as the 3,200-acre Conservation
and Research Center in Front Royal, Va. Currently,
there are approximately 2,600 animals from 435 species
in the Zoo's collection.
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