Critically endangered cotton-top tamarins arrive at the zoo

Meet our new breeding pair of critically endangered cotton-top tamarins!

Meet ‘Ray’ and ‘Raquel’, our adorable new zoo arrivals! These cotton-top tamarins have recently joined the likes of our African dwarf crocodiles, amphibians, reptiles, fruit bats and sloths in our Tropical Trails enclosure and have already settled wonderfully into their new home.

Ray, our male cotton-top tamarin

Five year old male, ‘Ray’, came to us from Shaldon Wildlife Trust in Devon and four year old female ‘Raquel’ joined us from Cotswold Wildlife Park. We’re hopeful that they’ll become a breeding pair – with the move to Folly zoo recommended by the studbook keeper for the species, as part of the European Breeding Programme.  They’re already getting to know each other after arriving just a couple of weeks ago – and we think it’s safe to say it’s all going well so far. They’ve already been being spotted grooming each other’s fur, a clear sign of trust and affection!

Female cotton-top, Raquel

One of the world’s smallest primates, cotton-top tamarins are easily recognisable from their long crest of fluffy white hair on top of their heads and towards their shoulders. They’re a critically endangered species according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species – with just 2,000 adults left in the wild and they can be found in just 5% of their original habitat in the tropical forests of northwest Columbia. The reason for such a shockingly low population? Sadly, habitat destruction through forest clearing is their main threat, as well as the illegal pet trade and being captured for scientific research.

“We’re so excited to welcome Ray and Raquel to our zoo family. They’re an adorable addition but more importantly – being such a rare species in the wild – it’s an opportunity to educate our guests about these animals and the plights they face. They’re settling in really well so far and are so much fun to watch as they’re so active. We hope they become a breeding pair and we can one day welcome the pitter patter of tiny primate infants – which will be excellent news for the species as well as exciting for us and our visitors!” – Keeper Kim

Ray and Raquel are settling into life in their new habitat – where they have plenty of climbing areas as well as nest-boxes and shaded sections for privacy. Keepers will also be opening an outdoor area for them once they’re more settled and some development work can take place – so guests will be able to view them from the garden area of Tropical Trails eventually too. Ray is certainly proving to be the more confident, inquisitive of the pair – whilst Raquel prefers to observe. They enjoy a diet of greens, root veg and insects – with sweet potato a clear favourite!

We hope that one day our new arrivals will breed and we can welcome some tamarin infants, but for now you can meet Ray and Raquel in Tropical Trails!

The new arrivals have settled in very quickly in Tropical Trails


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