Golden Lion Tamarin

Golden Lion Tamarin


A small area of rainforest in Eastern Brazil.


Primary and secondary tropical rainforest


Vibrant golden-colored coats make the Golden Lion Tamarin one of the brightest colored of all mammals. Their faces are dark and hairless and their mane is what gives them their name. They have long tails used for balance and elongated fingers adapted for extracting sap and gum from tree bark.

Golden Lion Tamarin

Golden Lion Tamarins have a variable social structure and spend most of their lives in a family group. The dominant female will suppress the other females' estrus cycle, ensuring that only it will reproduce. Males are dominant to females and show intense aggression toward unrelated animals. Aggressive displays include arch backing and the pilo-erection of their fur. Commonly heard vocalizations are shrill whistles, chirring, descending trills, whines and clucks. Much communication is through scent-marking with their special scent glands. Tamarins rarely come to the ground and usually sleep in tree holes. The family will share food with the juveniles so that they may eat hard to find foods and maintain a nutritious balance.


Gestation length is approximately 4 months and twins are most common. After giving birth, the female will be able to conceive again in only 3 days. The female's milk is richer in protein and ash than the milk of other simian groups. Infants are raised cooperatively. After the initial couple of weeks, the infants are carried by the father who then teaches the siblings how to properly care for the young.

Interesting Facts:

The male of this species stays with the female after mating and actively helps with raising the infants.

About Our Animals:

We have a successful breedings family group led by Poco and Puddles. Poco is an accomplished father and has begun losing his hair due to carrying so many infants.

Golden Lion Tamarin

The Golden Lion Tamarin is one of the most endangered of all primates. In the early eighties, researchers discovered that there were more tamarins in captivity than in the wild. They became one of the first primates to be reintroduced back into their wild habitat. A collaboration between the Brazilian government and zoos in the United States, most notably the National Zoo in Washington DC, created the successful reintroduction. As of now, 95% of the wild population is now wild born. The goal is to have 2000 animals in the wild by the year 2025. We are well on the way toward that goal. The Golden Lion Tamarin reintroduction program is a rare success and highlights how such programs can be vital in the survival of some of our most endangered species.

Did YOU Know?    
Golden Lion Tamarins are born with teeth.
Golden Lion Tamarin
Class: mammals
Order: Primates
Family: Callithricidae
Genus: Leontopithecus
Species: rosalia
Length: Body: 8-13 in.; Tail: 12-15 in.
Weight: 12-28 ounces
Average Lifespan: 14 years
Wild Diet: Fruit, nectar, flowers, insects, and small reptiles.
Zoo Diet: Monkey biscuits, marmoset diet, vegetables, fruits, insects and greens
Predators: Birds of prey, man

This is an ssp animal

USFWS Status: Critically Endangered
CITES Status: Appendix II
Where at the Zoo? Small Animal Building

Learn more about mammals or animals from South America!
Or, cross-reference the two!