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Twin tamarins born at Racine Zoo on Earth Day

RACINE COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Racine Zoo welcomed some new tamarin babies! Announced Thursday, April 30, the Racine Zoo said twin tamarins were born in the early morning hours of Earth Day, April 22 to first-time parents Amelie and Pitino. Amelie was born at the Racine Zoo herself in 2017 and these babies represent the ninth tamarin birth since Isabella moved to the Racine Zoo in 2012.

According to the Racine Zoo, rearing baby tamarins is a family affair, with all members of the family group assisting in carrying, grooming, and caring for young. Now one week old, the babies are thriving and both parents are sharing parenting duties beautifully. The Racine Zoo matriarch Isabella passed just days after the birth of her youngest daughter, Bella, last year. Zoo staff stepped in to provide around-the-clock care to Bella. This birth brings a new generation for the Zoo’s tamarin family. Bella, now just over a year old, is very curious about the infants and enjoys playing with their tails.

Born at the Racine Zoo in 2017, Amelie assisted in the rearing of twins born at the Zoo in 2018 as well as her sister in 2019, and Zoo staff were excited to welcome her first set of twins of her own last week! “This birth is a testament to our amazing keeper team’s hard work and expertise,” says Aszya Summers, the Zoo’s Curator of Animal Care and Conservation Education. “It is such a joy to watch Amelie with her offspring after watching her grow up here since 2017, and I cannot wait for the public to be able to share in this experience and watch our next generation of tamarins grow up.”

The Racine Zoo is one of only three facilities to successfully breed emperor tamarins in six years, and is critical to the breeding success of these Amazonian monkeys whose wild populations are declining due to deforestation and habitat loss. Marquis, the grandfather of the twins, is the oldest emperor tamarin in US Zoos at 12 years old, and of the 23 tamarins in US Zoos, 10 are descended from Marquis and Isabella. Emperor tamarins are small monkeys known for their charismatic white “mustache,” and are found in lowland rainforests of Peru, Brazil, and Bolivia.

“This is such a bright spot in an otherwise dark time amid the current pandemic,” said Beth Heidorn, Executive Director of the Racine Zoo. “Mother Nature finds a way to keep the world moving and we are fortunate to contribute to the success of this species.”

The Racine Zoo is currently closed to the public to slow the spread of COVID-19, but is looking forward to the day when it is safe to reopen and allow the public to visit the twins. The Zoo invites you to help support the care of these babies and all the animals at the Racine Zoo via their #GivingTuesdayNow fundraiser HERE. Be sure to watch Zoo social media for a naming contest in the coming weeks as well!

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