Friday, June 19, 2009

Rare Primate Twins Born At Lincoln Park Zoo

tamarin twin babiesFather's Day will be a busy one for a rare small primate at Lincoln Park Zoo after his mate gave birth to twins last week.

The pied tamarin gave birth to two youngsters on June 10, not an uncommon occurrence for the species, considered one of the most endangered monkeys in the Amazon rain forest, according to a release from the zoo.

What makes the species unusual is that unlike nearly all other non-human primates, is father serves a very prominent role in childcare, according to Maureen Leahy, assistant curator for primates at Near North Side zoo.

"Newborn tamarins are equivalent to 20 percent of the mother's body weight," she said in the release. "The father's role is essential to help carry all of this 'extra weight.' The fathers do a majority of the infant carrying when mom is not nursing."

And Mitch, father of the new twins, "is an exceptional dad, even by tamarin standards," Leahy said. "He carried his other kids, which were born last year, until there literally wasn't any room on his back for the both of them. In fact, he could barely keep his balance on a branch at times!"

Pied tamarins so rare that Lincoln Park Zoo is one of only eight accredited institutions to house them, part of a cooperative breeding program to help bolster the wild population, the release said.

Full story here.

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