When golden lion tamarin mama Frida needed help feeding her new twin babies, the Auckland Zoo team made the tough decision to hand-rear the newborns. It’s a risk-filled decision that includes feeding tiny female Aurora and male Raffino around the clock for weeks, transitioning them from milk to solid foods, and then reintroducing them to both their family and the zoo’s rainforest habitat.
The team has to make sure that the critically endangered babies have everything they need to survive and thrive until they can rejoin parents Frida and Alonzo. Primate Team Leader Amy Robbins shares this intensive and rewarding three-and-a-half-month journey in the 2020 Auckland Zoo video above. She explains:
“The decision to hand-rear is never an easy one, there’s always the risk that they imprint really heavily on the keepers but because there were twins that made it more likely that we would be successful. We made sure that we had all the latest research and science available to us, having the support of the lead team at Auckland Zoo, as well, and all of that has made this a real success.
“Golden lion tamarins still only exist in less than 5% of their original habitat so they’re still very, very restricted and very threatened by habitat loss but there are incredible conservation programmes that are protecting that habitat and that are closely monitoring the population.
“So it just feels like we’re part of that bigger picture, particularly since we’ve had this success. And not a lot of places can say that they’ve hand-reared golden lion tamarins successfully. We are now able to contribute to the international pool of knowledge and experience for this particular species so we feel very proud of that.”
There are more babies and zoo videos on TKSST, including:
• Helping an underweight newborn aye-aye nurse
• Raising sea otter pups at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
• Calaya gives birth to baby gorilla Moke at The National Zoo
• Five tender minutes with Goodali, mother Gremlin’s baby chimpanzee
• Tiny egg rescue: Hatching and raising a baby budgie
• A giant panda gives birth to twin baby pandas (and doesn’t realize she’s raising both)
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