Home of Golden Lion Tamarins Greatly Expanded

Golden Lion Tamarins (GLTs) received a wonderful gift on World Environment Day, June 5, 2017, when the Brazilian government decreed the expansion of the União Biological Reserve, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil, from its current 2.5 thousand hectares to over 7.5 thousand hectares.  This is now three times the original size of the Reserve that was created in 1998 as a result of pressure by SGLT’s Brazilian partner organization AMLD, together with other partner institutions.  In 2007, AMLD in partnership with SavingSpecies purchased 40 hectares of cattle pasture that separated the União Reserve from forests to the west.  AMLD reforested that cattle pasture thus linking União to adjacent forests.  The rich biodiversity in this area of the Atlantic Forest includes lots of GLTs and other mammals, as well as other species that rely on this habitat including amphibians, birds, orchids, butterflies, and more.    

Since the creation of the União Reserve, AMLD and partners have lobbied to increase the size of the Reserve.  In February of 2017, AMLD's Executive Secretary travelled to Brasilia to meet with government officials concerning important issues that included increasing the size of União.  On June 5, 2017, the President of Brazil signed a bill increasing the União Reserve from 2,584 hectares to 7,756 hectares, including the 40 hectares purchased reforested by AMLD—a huge contribution to GLT conservation because it permanently protects at additional 5,000 hectares of GLT habitat. 

What a wonderful way to celebrate and ensure that 2017 is TRULY the Year of the Golden Lion Tamarin!

Original and New ("ampliada") Area of Uniao reserve


Priority Area for Conservation of GLTs


GLTs featured as a CBSG success story 

The Golden Lion Tamarin Conservation Program is one of ten success stories from around the world featured in the Conservation Breeding Specialist Group’s (CBSG) new book Second Nature available for free download or viewing in book form online at

Each story describes what's possible when dedicated people who have a common purpose collaborate to save threatened species.  Behind all these stories is CBSG, a small but effective catalyst for changing the futures of endangered species.  Thank you, CBSG, for more than 35 years and counting of partnership in conservation planning with all of us working to assure a future for Golden Lion Tamarins in their native Atlantic Forest in Rio de Janeiro. 

Download Second Nature as a PDF (14 MB)->
 Second Nature in book form -> 

Reports of the past lion tamarin Population and Habitat Viability Assessments (1990, 1997, and 2005) are also available for download on the CBSG site ->


Yellow Fever Hits Brazil 

An outbreak of Yellow Fever has been travelling through Southeast Brazil  over the past few weeks. On March 14 the first case in Rio de Janeiro state was detected in the municipality of Casimiro de Abreu, in the center of the remaining GLT habitat.  Yellow Fever can be fatal for at-risk humans (the young, old, and immuno-comprimised), and it is also fatal for some New World Primates. AMLD  is closely monitoring reports of sick primates as GLTs could be affected by this virus. All AMLD staff have been vaccinated.  To help protect both people and monkeys, AMLD and SGLT are educating the public about the disease and the need for vaccination. The AMLD field team know the region well and are transporting health workers to vaccinate people living in isolated rural areas.  Eco-tourism visits to the GLT habitat have been temporarily stopped. Yellow fever has not been well studied in monkeys, thus there is no current proven vaccination for monkeys.  


AMLD staff helping transport healthworkers to vaccinate GLT neighbors. 


What is Yellow Fever?

Yellow Fever is a viral disease common in areas of Africa and South America.  For most people, symptoms are similar to a bad influenza and last about four days. In some, especially older people and those with immune system problems, symptoms can be much worse and fatal in 3 - 7% of cases. Yellowing of the skin and eyes is common in people with severe symptoms.

How can people protect themselves from Yellow Fever?

Get vaccinated against Yellow Fever BEFORE the disease is found near where you live.  One vaccination protects you for the rest of your life.  Check with your doctor about vaccinations for babies, pregnant or nursing women, older people and people with immune-deficiency. 

Also, protect yourself from mosquito bites.

Can you get Yellow Fever from a monkey?

No, you can’t get Yellow Fever from a monkey or another person. Yellow Fever is spread by mosquitoes infected with the disease.

Can monkeys get Yellow Fever?

Yes.  People and monkeys can both be victims of Yellow Fever.

Do monkeys spread Yellow Fever from one city or state to another?

No.  People infected with the disease who travel from one city or state to another take the disease with them and spread it there.

Can monkeys help protect people from Yellow Fever?

Yes.  When monkeys show symptoms of Yellow Fever that tells local Health Departments that people should be vaccinated immediately.  Monkeys can show us where Yellow Fever has spread.


Agreement Defined on Future of BR101 Wildlife Passages!

The following is a translation of an article posted on AMLD’s website on February 21st, 2017.  The article presents AMLD’s understanding of the outcome of a meeting held in Rio de Janeiro on February 17th.  At this meeting interested parties discussed the future of wildlife passageways over and under the BR101 interstate highway, currently being doubled in width, which passes through forests containing golden lion tamarins.


Brazilian Federal Public Prosecutor, federal environment agencies ICMBIO and IBAMA, federal transportation agency ANTT, toll road concession holder Autopista Fluminense - APF, and Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado – AMLD, sat at the same table to define the future of wildlife living along the BR-101 highway.

The decisive meeting was held February 17, 2017 in the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office in Rio de Janeiro.  The objective was to define the structures for wildlife passages on highway BR-101, and to reach an agreement to end the Public Civil Suit Number 0098462-16.2016.4.02.5116 concerning compliance with environmental conditions placed on the permit for widening highway BR101 in Rio de Janeiro.

The most important news is that ALL INSTITUTIONS RECOGNIZED AND ACCEPTED ICMBIO’S OPINION that establishes the need to construct the following wildlife passages:

  • 2 forested overpasses. The first overpass to be constructed will eliminate isolation of wildlife in Poço das Antas Biological Reserve caused by widening of the highway.  Because of the high construction cost and the fact that this will be the first wildlife passage of this type to be built in Brazil, it was agreed that the monitoring of wildlife use of the first overpass would inform the design of the second overpass, to be constructed later at kilometer 240.

The strip of vegetation available to wildlife on the overpass will be 20 meters wide.  Any lateral protection to prevent branches from falling on the highway will be in addition to the 20 meters.   Autopista Fluminense requested and was granted a period of 10 months to prepare a construction plan.  Within 6 months ICMBIO must prepare the Terms of Reference for monitoring use of the overpass by wildlife.

  • 4 rigid structures over the highway connecting the forest canopy on each side (APF must complete the construction plan in 6 months).
  • 6 structures of ropes and cables connecting the forest canopy on each side of the highway (APF must complete the construction plan in 4 months).
  • 15 passages under the highway (APF must complete the construction plan in 5 months).
  • 11 passages under highway bridge spans  (APF previously presented proposals for adapting the spans of the highway bridges crossing 11 rivers to include wildlife passages.  ICMBIO approved 6 of these.  The remainder are now under review, and ICMBIO must present its opinion in 30 days).

AMLD together with local, national, and international research and biodiversity conservation organizations have worked for many years to ensure that wildlife passages are installed over the BR101 highway in Rio de Janeiro.  Thousands of people both from Brazil and countries throughout the world signed the recent petitions asking APF to install the wildlife passages.  All those signatures are now included in the court case documentation.

The decision is very positive and demonstrates a maturity of process and of the organizations involved.  ICMBIO, for example, reduced its requirements from 4 to 2 forested overpasses.  Autopista Fluminense and ANTT, who had wanted alternatives to the forested overpasses, understood their importance and are committed to building them.

We emphasize the important role of the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office, especially Federal Public Prosecutor Flavio Reis, who played a fundamental role as mediator of the dialog among the parties.

We must now monitor the development of the construction plans and progress of the construction itself.  AMLD will continue to monitor the effectiveness of the passages for golden lion tamarins.  This is a long-term challenge, but essential for the viability of wildlife populations, not only of golden lion tamarins, but of all the associated fauna.

The Civil Case was not withdrawn.  The Prosecutor will request the presiding judge to suspend the case until the construction plans are completed, approved, and construction initiated.

Even at this late stage, with the widening of the highway practically completed, these structures will certainly have long-term impact – a reduction of wildlife road kills and an increase in the connectivity of the conservation landscape.  The construction of these passages can make this expanse of the BR-101 highway a world model for minimizing the impact of highways on biodiversity.

Participants in the meeting:

Office of the Federal Public Prosecutor (Dr. Flavio Reis)

ICMBio (Andreia Ribeiro, Region CR-8 Coordinator; Gustavo Luna, Director Poço das Antas Biological Reserve; Rodrigo Mayerhofer, Director Rio São João-Mico-Leão-Dourado Environmental Protection Area; Tatiana Ribeiro, ICMBio CR-8);

Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado (Luis Paulo Ferraz, Executive Director and Andreia Martins, Biologist and Field Team Coordinator);

Autopista Fluminense (Odilio Ferreira, Superintendent Director; Marcello Gonçalves, Environment Manager; Gustavo Garcia & Cynthia Magri, attorneys);

IBAMA (Pedro Castilho, Rio de Janeiro Regional Superintendent; Adilson Pinto Gil; Antonio Carlos Machado Filho; Lidia Reis)

Agência Nacional de Transportes Terrestres, ANTT (Carlos Frederico Peixoto, Infrastructure Coordinator; Daniele Nunes de Castro, Forest Engineer; Marcelo Vargas).


Save the Golden Lion Tamarin and Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado (AMLD) would like to recognize the special contribution of Philadelphia Zoo in helping us reach this important step forward toward assuring a future for golden lion tamarins in the wild.  The Philly Zoo 360 trails provided both an inspiration and technical input for the design of the wildlife passages recently approved for construction in Brazil.  The Philly Zoo online petition in English mobilized signatures from around the world asking Autopista Fluminense to build the wildlife passages – nearly half the 5,000 signatures AMLD delivered at the February 17 meeting.  Thanks to ALL who signed the petitions.  This public pressure was crucial in achieving the agreement, and the signatures now form part of the court case documentation.  We hope you will continue to support us in monitoring the construction of the wildlife passages over the BR101 and their effectiveness in connecting the Golden Lion Tamarin populations on each side of the highway.


GLT Story finalist for 2016 Excellence in Science Books

Attention zoo educators, teachers, parents, and anyone wanting to promote young people’s science-based actions in conserving the diversity of life on our planet! Susan Markle’s The Great Monkey Rescue: Saving the Golden Lion Tamarins was named a finalist in the Science Books and Films 2016 Prizes for Excellence in Science Books.  Sponsored by Suburu and AAAS (the publisher of the prestigious journal Science), the annual competition highlights books that promote science literacy among children and young adults – helping kids to identify the right questions and the best ways to answer them. Markle’s book is based on extensive interviews with Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado and Save the Golden Lion Tamarin, who also provided many of the photos in this gorgeously illustrated book.


The book can be purchased at – make sure to choose SGLT as your charity to benefit from your Amazon Smile account!


The Great Monkey Rescue

Saving the Golden Lion Tamarins

The Great Monkey Rescue is a soberly written yet inspiring guide through the near demise and science-assisted rebound of a squirrel-sized primate known as the golden lion tamarin. The easy-to-digest text is packed with interesting facts and set against vibrant pictures of bright orange monkeys and lush green foliage. Golden lion tamarins live exclusively in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, an ecosystem that has shrunk to less than 10% of its original size in recent years. Faced with a dwindling food supply and a diminishing habitat, the tamarin was nearly extinct 50 years ago. This launched an international effort to breed the monkeys in captivity, along with parallel attempts to conserve their shrinking forest habitat. Markle explains clearly how captive breeding programs initially flailed, producing few offspring that often failed to thrive. The breeding programs became successful only when scientists recognized that tamarins prefer to live in small family-sized groups. Instead of removing the father after the mother gave birth, families were subsequently kept together, and the captive tamarin population began to grow. By the mid-1980s, captive born tamarins were being reintroduced to the now-protected natural habitat. Novel forest-management techniques such as connecting patches of forest with rows of trees continue to increase their range, helping to ensure healthy population growth. The rebound of the golden lion tamarin is truly something to celebrate. —Brent Grocholski