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Baby tamarin is Micke Grove Zoo’s newest resident

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Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013 12:00 am

A 2-month-old golden lion tamarin's little squeak doesn't quite measure up to the roar of its feline namesake, but the staff at Micke Grove Zoo are thrilled the monkey has recently joined their community.

The tiny tamarin was born Feb. 21 to mother Rio and father Jesse. The pair are also the parents of 1-year-old twin sisters, Coari and Tefe. The entire family is on display from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the zoo's new enclosure.

Tamarins, a species of small New World monkeys, are named after their golden-red manes, which are reminiscent of male African lions. Their golden fur is likely a result of their carrot-rich diet, and they stay active for 12 hours a day.

Julie Rosenthal, primary keeper at Micke Grove Zoo, said she wouldn't know the baby's sex until it has a physical next month. And when they know the sex, they'll give it a name.

The baby, which has lived with its family since it was born, spent much of its first weeks clinging to its mother's back as she swung around the cage.

But recently, the tamarin is climbing on its own, and Rosenthal said it appears more curious than most. It has already ventured to the top of the 15-foot cage and is not afraid to wander far from its mother.

This baby doesn't have a twin, so zookeepers are watching to see how it develops and learns on its own, and for any other interesting traits that develop.

"It's going to be interesting to see how he acts because he's the only one," she said. "He doesn't have the bonding that (the sisters have)."

However, the baby is beginning to fit in with its older sisters.

While the twins primarily play with each other, the young one still tries to join in the fun. The baby has even started riding on its sisters' backs.

Raising the baby is a family affair.

"The youngsters watch and help raise siblings, so they know what to do when they get older and have offspring, as well," Rosenthal said.

The golden lion tamarins' natural habitat is a small area of the Brazilian rainforest. But that region has been damaged by deforestation and has put the tamarins on the International Union of the Conservation of Nature's red list for threatened species.

Micke Grove Zoo participates in a program that breeds the tamarins in order to prevent them from becoming extinct.

As tamarins learn to how to be parents, they are moved to other zoos where they start their own families.

Today, the baby is still moving around the cage, discovering his surroundings and always trying to play with its siblings.

"He has to make his own fun because his two sisters could care less," Rosenthal said.

Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at krisa@lodinews.com.

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