Golden Lion Tamarin Association
Golden lion tamarins (Leontopithecus rosalia) are a small species of South American primate that are endangered in the wild (IUCN, 2009). Since 2000, Dublin Zoo has contributed funds to the Golden Lion Tamarin Association via the Lion Tamarins of Brazil Fund. Over the years the money has been used for various conservation initiatives such as tracking family groups using radio-collars, conducting studies on diet and habitat use and translocating isolated groups into larger reserves.
An important element of conserving this species was the reintroduction of zoo-bred animals into protected reserves. Zoos around the world which keep golden lion tamarins cooperate with an international breeding programme. Now, almost half of all tamarins in the wild are descended from zoo-bred animals. Dublin Zoo has successfully bred nine golden lion tamarins and Dublin Zoo hopes to continue breeding this species. Overall, this project has been very successful and the wild population has risen from just 200 in the 1970’s to approximately 1500.
In 2010, Dublin zoo also donated funds for the translocation of golden-headed lion tamarins back to Bahia (further north of Brazil), where they originate. This species was released by accident near the range of the golden lion tamarin. If these populations meet, they may hybridise or new diseases could be introduced to the golden lion tamarin populations and all the conservation work of the previous decades could be lost.