Welcome to Monkey Messages, a roundup of the Zoo's free-ranging golden lion tamarins, written by Hannah Koppelberger, GLT intern. Later this month, a GLT family will be released at the Zoo. Read all about their adventures in Monkey Messages.
Issue One, May 23
Welcome to the start of this year’s Golden Lion Tamarin (GLT) Free-Range Program. As usual, things are far from dull. Our adult female Laranja, who was in the free-range exhibit the past two years, threw a monkey wrench into things when she gave birth to twins less than two weeks before the family's scheduled release. The season promises to be an especially exciting one with the impending release of our family of eight.
With such a large group of monkeys, our volunteers' help is more critical then ever. We couldn’t do it without them. Not only do they help ensure the safety of the tamarins once released, they are also participating in the overall conservation of this endangered species. The data they will be collecting throughout the season will be used to help further the knowledge of captive GLT behavior as well as make important comparisons to data collected from GLTs in the wild.
While the safety of the animals and data collection are their first priorities, they will also have the opportunity to interact with the public as they visit our area here at the Zoo. By using this chance to better educate the public about this species and their status in the wild, the volunteers will be helping to further conservation efforts to protect and save these animals. We appreciate all their hard work in the coming season.
2007 Free-Ranging GLT Family
Our current plan is to release the entire family into the free-range exhibit in mid-June. However, over the days approaching their release, we will be watching the group’s behavior and if any aggression is noted from, or toward, the older girls (born in March 2006), we may elect to pull them from the group. [See update below.]
In their crowded, but oh-so-cozy, nest box will be the seasoned veterans: Laranja (born April 9, 2002) and Eduardo (born February 11, 2000), the older set of twins, Gisela and Samba (born March 21, 2006), Moe and Mara (born November 18, 2006), and the two new offsping (born May 26, 2007). [June update: The twin girls, who were born in March 2006 and were free-ranging last summer, are at the age when they leave the family group. They will remain at the Small Mammal House this summer.] But that still leaves six free-ranging tamarins. With so many monkeys, things may go a little bananas! The infants thus far look to be strong and healthy, and it should be interesting to see how they grow and develop in the free-range exhibit. It certainly adds another element to what already promises to be an exciting summer.
Your 2007 GLT Intern
I would like to take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Hannah Koppelberger and I am very excited to be joining this program for the summer. I recently graduated from the University of Akron in Ohio with a B.S. in biology and a minor in psychology. I am very interested in animal behavior and have spent the past three years working at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo training animals and interpreting to the public. My plans for the future include graduate study in conservation as well as field research, specifically involving animal behavior and its application in conservation.
Back home, when not at work, school, or volunteering for a local wildlife rehabilitation center, I spend my time reading, hiking, and listening to music. I especially love meeting new people and learning new things so I look forward to working with our volunteers throughout the season.
During my internship, I will be assisting volunteers with their daily monitoring duties, helping with behavioral observation, crowd control, and educating the public, as well as dealing with emergencies, should there be any. I will also be writing Monkey Messages, where I will be regaling you weekly with the GLTs' behavior, favorite trees, new routes and routines, behavioral trends, and any other updates. I am also responsible for animal care of the free-ranging GLT family, as well as exhibit setup, maintenance, and tear down at the end of the season. I will be here all summer, five days a week, to keep things running as smoothly as possible. Though I am a brand new face around the Zoo and will be learning much in the next few months, I am a great resource and I am here to help. I look forward to a wonderful season of monkey watching.
But Wait, There’s More!
There are two new changes from last year that I would like to highlight. If anyone is wondering about the black cloth fencing along the lower fence of Beaver Valley, it is there to prevent the tamarins from running panicked too far from the central exhibit area should they fall during or shortly after the release. In past years, if one falls on the first day, they tend to bolt across the paths and then seem unable to find their way back for several hours and this should create both a visual and physical barrier to that action.
Secondly, there is a new data collection item being added to the data sheet. We are curious to see the social play dynamics of two separate sets of twins in the same family group. Specifically, we want to know if the kids play more often with their own twin than with a member of the other twin set.
I am so excited to get the season underway! In the meantime, please visit the family in the Small Mammal House and even take time to practice your scans. Their enclosure is a blur of gold with so many tamarins flying around. The family is sure to keep us on our toes this summer and I, for one, cannot wait.