Golden lion tamarins establish and defend a territory as large as 100 acres against other tamarins. Territories are marked using scent glands located in the sternal and genital areas. Vocalizations are also used to warn intruders to stay away. Actual fighting between rival groups does not occur.
Golden lion tamarins are active in the upper canopy of the forest during the day. They forage for food using their long, slender fingers to probe in small crevices, under bark and inside plants. At night they retreat to nest holes in trees and sleep until after sunrise. The adults are the first to venture out in the morning and the last group members to enter the nest holes at night. The tree holes also provide protection from predators and relief from the mid-day heat.
Talk to Me
Tamarins use a variety of vocalizations to communicate with group members. High-pitched calls and squeaks are used to warn intruders away and to warn group members if predators threaten. Different calls are used for predators in the air (like hawks) and predators on the ground or in the trees. Tamarins also communicate through facial expressions and scent marking.
IUCN Status: Endangered.
Golden lion tamarins are endangered due to severe habitat destruction because of logging, farming and urbanization. Only 2-3% of their former forest habitat still exists. In 1974, the Poco das Antas Biological Reserve was established in Brazil to provide a protected area for tamarins. A second reserve, União Federal Biological Reserve, was established in 1996. In 1971 an international cooperative breeding program was established to increase the captive population of tamarins. By 2001, nearly 150 captive born tamarins had been reintroduced to Brazil to increase the number and genetic diversity of the wild population. Because of the cooperative efforts between the government of Brazil, zoos (including Denver Zoo), WWF and other organizations as well as farmers in Brazil, there are now over 1200 wild golden lion tamarins in preserved forest in Brazil and a stable population of about 500 golden lion tamarins in zoos around the world. By 2025, the goal is to increase preserved forest to 62,000 acres and provide corridors to reconnect fragmented habitat to support a sustainable population of 2,000 golden lion tamarins.