Why Are Golden Lion Tamarins Called Endangered Animals?
The golden lion tamarin has become one of the world’s most endangered animals – due to it being hunted by poachers and its forest habitat being destroyed to make way for agricultural plantations. Only 2 to 3 per cent of the golden lion tamarins’ original rainforest habitat is still in existence. Golden lion tamarins, are arboreal primates from the Atlantic coastal forests of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. In the wild, they will live for approximately 15 years, but in zoos they can live up to 20 years.
Unfortunately, the forest is being rapidly cut down for human use. Humans are cutting down trees, both to use the timber and to clear the land. The land ends up being used to build cities and other structures humans need. The deforestation of the Atlantic forest is the main reason that golden lion tamarins are an endangered species, meaning they are in danger of going extinct.
There were fewer than 200 of these monkeys left in the 1970s, but thanks to Brazil’s recovery efforts, along with the help of the U.S. National Zoo and other zoological programs, today approximately 1,600 golden lion tamarins grace the tropical forest with their bright orange monkey manes. This jump in population is due to strong rehabilitation and reintroduction programs designed to spread the tamarin’s genetic diversity and range. So far, these programs have been successful, but forest degradation, which includes damage done by industry and climate change, still poses a major threat to tamarin survival.
This monkey is named for its beautiful golden, red, and orange fur. The fur is fluffed out around their head, giving them the appearance of a lion’s mane. Yet, the smallest of these animals are about 480 times lighter than the largest lions. They only weigh between 0.875 and 1.8 pounds, whereas a lion can weigh up to 420 pounds.
Their small size might seem like it would make them easy prey for a snake or birds. But, they use their size to their advantage. Golden lion tamarins are diurnal, meaning they are awake during the day and sleep at night. At night, their size allows them to hide in small holes inside trees to keep them safe from predators.
But don’t let their weight fool you, these animals have an extremely long tail compared to their body length. Their bodies are about eight inches long (between six and ten inches), but their tails can be as long as 13.5 inches. A long tail is a useful trait for them. With an arboreal life, or primarily living in the trees, these animals use their long tail to balance and help them jump between the trees.
The golden lion tamarins like fruit like humans, but they also dine on flowers, insects, snails, spiders and sometimes small lizards frogs or even birds. To find these insects, the golden lion tamarin has long bones in its hands. It uses its long fingers to probe inside trees looking for tasty snacks. Their long hand bones also help them to grip the trees as they travel in the branches during the day.