Golden Lion Tamarin

ZOO LOCATION: Primate World

Lifespan: Up to 8 years

Wild Diet: Fruits, insects, spiders, snails, eggs and small lizards.

Zoo Diet: Prepared "tamarin diet" with meat, grain and vitamins.

Predators: Birds of prey, cats and large snakes

SSP: yes

IUCN Status: Endangered

Habitat/Range: Humid, closed canopy forests, restricted to low altitude (below 1,000 feet) along the Atlantic coast of Brazil and coastal forests of Rio de Janiero

Characteristics: An early description referred to them as "beautiful simian-like cats similar to lions." They have a pale to rich reddish-gold coat and a long, backswept mane (hence the use of the term "lion") that covers the ears and frames the dark, almost bare face. They weigh 1-2 pounds. They are good leapers; their hind limbs are longer than the front. They have elongated palms, and the third and fourth fingers are united by skin a short way from the palm, an adaptation that helps them grip tree branches.

Behavior: Golden lion tamarins, or "GLTs," live in family groups of 2-8 individuals, though usually 3-4, moving through primary forest at 10-30 feet above ground, where interlacing branches and vines provide protection and forage.

Reproduction: Gestation is typically 140 days (4 1/2 months), and births are normally twins. The father primarily cares for the young, bringing them to their mother to nurse. They reach full maturity in their second year.

Conservation: Golden Lion Tamarins (GLTs) are listed as Endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Redlist. As of their last assessment, the IUCN shows that GLT populations occur in less than 5,000 square kilometers, much of which is severely fragmented, and there is a continuing decline in quality of habitat and space available. The GLT reintroduction program has helped wild populations numbers, but a number of threats to their survival remain. The continued work by zoos, conservation groups and the local government are essential to their recovery.