Scientific Name: leontopithecus rosalia
Habitat: São João River Basin in the State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Diet: birds, reptiles, eggs, insects, mollusks, leaves, fruit
Life span: 15 years (22 – 24 in captivity)
Young: 2
Size: 20 – 36 cm body, plus 31 – 40 cm tail

The Golden Lion Tamarin resides in the dense, humid tropical forests of the São João River Basin in the State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They live in the forest canopy, often remaining 10 – 30 meters off the ground. At night, they sleep in tree holes for protection from predators.

Golden Lion Tamarin’s get their name from their bright, reddish-gold fur, and their long “mane”. Instead of having flat fingernails like other primates or humans, these tamarins have claw-like nails that help them cling to the trunks and branches of trees.

Golden lion tamarins are a social species and live in groups of 2 – 8. Often these groups are made up of family members. They groom themselves like other primates though mainly males groom the females. While adults spend most of their time grooming and huddling, juveniles spend most of their time playing. Like humans, they sleep from dusk to dawn and sometimes take midday naps.

In the wild, the Golden Lion Tamarin is one of the rarest mammals, and it is one of the most critically endangered of all primate species. It’s estimated that there may be as few as 400 left in the world, with most of these concentrated in the Poco des Antas Biological Reserve in Rio de Janiero. The primary cause of their loss in number is habitat destruction. Luckily these numbers are rising, thanks to efforts such as the Species Survival Plan.

Learn more about the Golden Lion Tamarin at Animal Diversity Web, or stop by the Edmonton Valley Zoo.