Cape May

NJ Zoo Announces Birth of Rare, Critically Endangered Tamarin

There are about 6,000 Cotton-Top tamarins left in the world and the species is considered critically endangered

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A baby primate born earlier this month is the first birth at a New Jersey zoo since the coronavirus pandemic began.

A Cotton-Top tamarin was born at the Cape May County Zoo Aug. 3, according to a news release.

Veterinarians still haven't determined the baby's sex because its parents — 13-year-old Cordelia and 5-year-old Tam-Tam — have been holding the baby tightly.

"The baby is strong and healthy and will be carried closely by both Mom and Dad for several weeks until it is strong enough to venture out on its own," veterinarian Dr. Alex Ernst said. "They are out and about in their habitat and can be viewed by the public. Visitors will have to look closely at Mom to see the baby as she will be holding on to it very tight."

Cape May County Zoo
The baby tamarin with its mother holding it tight.

Cordelia and Tam-Tam were paired up as part of a "Species Survival Plan" through which "every successful birth helps to stabilize the future for these Critically Endangered South American primates," Ernst said.

There are about 6,000 Cotton-Top (also called cotton-headed) tamarins left in the world and the species is considered critically endangered. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the tamarins' habitat - forests in the northwest of Colombia - is at risk from the trees being cleared for farmland and development projects, as well as flooding from dams.

The tamarins' habitat has shrunk to about 5 percent of its original size, according to National Geographic.

The zoo reopened in June and is open from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Masks are required for everyone over 2 years old, and visitors should socially distance.

NBC10's Erin Coleman spoke to zoo staff in June about the reopening plans.

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