Not even lockdown could stop the recent arrival of twin golden lion tamarins at Mogo Wildlife Park.
At six weeks old, the curious monkeys are yet to be named, but are soaking up time with mum and dad, which is a rare sight given the species is endangered.
Mogo zookeeper Chad Staples says staff aren’t even sure of the new arrivals’ genders yet as they’ve left the family alone to bond.
“It’s her first time being a mum so you don’t want to disturb her,” he says. “We’ll need to do health checks on them at some stage, but as long as you see them feeding and they’re holding onto mum tight, you just leave them.”
While golden lion tamarins are extremely rare – with numbers as low as 2500 in the wild due to poaching and deforestation, and 500 in zoos – twins are extremely common.
These monkeys from Brazil’s rainforests get their endearing name from the golden coloured hairs around their neck, which form a mane very similar in appearance to a lion’s mane.
“They’re a very special species,” says Chad. “You almost can’t believe that something is that colour. Very striking, very interesting and a real treat for people to see. You’d never see them in the wild, that’s for sure.”
Another special sighting is the twins bonding with dad, who carries his fair share of the parenting load.
“Dad plays quite a big role,” says Chad. “Quite often during the day, mum will be holding one while dad will be holding the other. Then the one that’s with dad will call out because it’s hungry and they’ll swap.
“Although dad can’t do much of the feeding, he does do a lot of the parenting. So he’s very active, there with mum and making sure he’s bonding with both babies.”
While it’s not uncommon for male primates to play a role in parenting, the males aren’t always as close.
For example, when Mogo Wildlife Park welcomed a baby silvery gibbon in May, the dad was seen playing a more protective role, watching over the encounter as the mum and sisters did more of the nurturing.
“It’s wonderful to watch,” says Chad, who caught a perfect glimpse of the twins recently when they looked straight into his camera lens.
“They’re very inquisitive. All primates are naturally curious and very smart. They’re just interested in what’s going on.”
Visitors to the zoo will be able to see the twins on display in a large glass exhibit when it reopens post-lockdown.
Staff are also excited to welcome a baby zebra any day now, and a giraffe in a few months.
The popular white lions were also recently moved from their long-term enclosure to a newly renovated exhibit, which regular visitors will be excited to see.
Original Article published by Hannah Sparks on About Regional.