Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Captive Breeding and Population Management

The international captive population of the golden lion tamarins (and the other lion tamarins) is managed by the International Committee for the Conservation and Management of Lion Tamarins.

The North American Population is managed as a Species Survival Program (SSP) of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

The primary objectives of the captive population are, in priority order, to:

  1. maintain a demographically secure and genetically healthy population to serve as a secure and viable backup to the populations in the wild
  2. maintain at least 90 percent of the expected heterozygosity for a period of 100 years
  3. provide sufficient animals to meet the demands of the reintroduction program
  4. meet the needs of zoos participating in the captive breeding program.

These objectives and the way in which the population is managed are discussed more extensively in our Master Plan Report.

As of May 2006, there are about 450 golden lion tamarins in 150 zoos. The statistics below are based on figures from December 31, 2000:

No. Living Animals 475
% Growth Rate Since 1994 3.3%
No. Participating Institutions 153
No. Founders 41
No. Living Founders 3
No. Founder Genome Equivalents 13.4
% Expected Heterozygosity Retained 96.2
Average Mean Kinship 0.038

The Science of Population Management: Try your hand at population management with our Golden Lion Tamarin Pedigree Game!