Golden Lion Tamarins (GLTs) are a perennial favourite at the Toronto Zoo. With their golden fur, their inquisitive expressions, and their frenetic squirrel-like energy, they have an irresistible visual appeal. In terms of behaviour, their ample mutual grooming sessions evoke the sense of an idyllic, close knit family group.
GLTs are native to the coastal rainforests of Brazil. In the 1970's, logging and clearing destroyed the majority of their habitat and brought them to the brink of extinction. To combat their decline, zoos around the world were enlisted to help through a captive breeding program. Thanks to their efforts and the establishment of biological reserves in Brazil, captive bred GLTs have been reintroduced back into the wild and their conservation status has been upgraded from critically endangered to endangered. Habitat fragmentation continues to be a threat to their existence and much work remains to be done, but this conservation success story offers some hope.
Check out this Smithsonian video to gain an appreciation for the charm and the remarkable adaptations of the GLT.