TR10 - The story of a 17-year-old tamarin

On November 20th of 2014, the golden lion tamarin field team trapped a group of GLTs on the Rio Vermelho ranch in Brazil. One had the tattoo “TR10." Andreia Martins, the team coordinator, was astonished to find that this GLT, a female, was more than 17 years old!  Andreia’s carefully maintained database showed that TR10 had been born on the ranch on September 17, 1997. She was still in good physical condition but her teeth were worn to the gum line. Nonetheless, the observers saw her eating fruits and even insects, and her weight seemed normal. One member of her group was seen carrying two infants. The team could not determine if they had been born to TR10, although she certainly has had many infants over the years.

TR10 in 2015. Photo by Andreia Martins.

The discovery of such an old tamarin raises the question of their longevity. A wild GLT known as “GLT3” was trapped with her family and rescued from a patch of forest that was being cut down by its owner in 1983. GLT3 was one of the first tamarins to be trapped by Jim Dietz in his now-classic field study. She had been born in 1981. Jim relocated GLT3 and her family to the Poço das Antas Reserve, where she survived 10 mates and gave birth to 34 offspring before her death in November 1998, also at the age of 17.

According to Jennifer Mickelberg, who maintains the studbook for captive golden lion tamarins and studies the conservation genetics of wild tamarins, the median age of captive golden lion tamarins is between 7 and 8 years. About 10% of all captive female golden lion tamarins live to be 17. The record age is 31 (a captive male), and the oldest captive female lived to be 25. But mammals generally live longer in captivity than in the wild because they have a steady supply of nutritious food, good veterinary care, and no predators. It’s therefore really noteworthy that TR10 and GLT3 both made it to 17—and that Andreia’s team was able to document these results.

The detailed scientific records that have been kept by GLT scientists for more than three decades reveal some additional interesting details. TR10’s father, known as “T3”, had been born in the Stockholm Zoo in Sweden and had been reintroduced to the wild on the Rio Vermelho ranch in 1992. He had a rocky start in the wild, and had to be rescued several times after he was reintroduced. But he survived and paired up with TR10’s mother, “E6,”who had been born at the Emmen Zoo in the Netherlands and had also been reintroduced in 1992. T3 lived to be 9, but E6 lived to be at least 16 ½ years old. Perhaps longevity runs in families?

Remarkable longevity has a downside. Golden lion tamarins that live too long tend to fill the available breeding opportunities with their many offspring, which prevents unrelated tamarins from breeding.  The result can be an overall increase in inbreeding and loss of genetic diversity. Jim, Jennifer, and Andreia and her team will continue to monitor the tamarins and track their pedigrees. They’ll keep a special eye on TR10.   


The 2015 National Zoo auction is May 4 through May 17!

HELP Save GLTs with your bids on fabulous items in the ZooFari 2015 Online Auction!

From Monday, May 4 through Sunday, May 17, Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) will host the ZooFari 2015 online auction! This is your opportunity to bid on incredible, one-of-a-kind items to raise money for many of the Smithsonian's National Zoo's programs – one of which is the conservation of Golden Lion Tamarins in Brazil!  Last year’s auction raised more than US$8,000 that goes to AMLD, our partner in Brazil for their work to save GLTs.  With your help we can top that this year. 

Check out the auction at: and please share with your friends.

The auction items that benefit GLTs are not specifically identified on the auction website; so use this list to find them!  Please share the link and list with all your friends.  Many thanks to all the donors for these special items:

Animal-Made Art

  •        "Kjla" seal from the National Zoo Painting! 
  •        A Prevost's Squirrel Painting
  •        Animal art by the National Zoo's Meerkats!
  •        Animal Artwork by a Naked Mole Rat
  •        Armadillo Art by the National Zoo's Three Banded Armadillo
  •        Animal Artwork by Gorillas Mandara and Daughter Kabibi
  •        Animal Artwork by Kojo the Gorilla
  •        Orangutan Iris Painting
  •        Seal Painting by American Trail residents Kjya, Luke, Selkie, and Squeegee!

Art and Home Decor

  •        "Petiço" - painting by Brazilian artist Patricia Secco
  •        Golden Lion Tamarins on a Platter


  •        The IUCN Red List: 50 Years of Conservation
  •        Unlikely Heroes signed by author Jennifer Holland
  •        Handbook of the Mammals of the World – Vol. 3: Primates
  •        Handbook of the Mammals of the World - Vol. 4: Sea Mammals
  •        Signed copy of Dr. Jane Goodall's Book Hope for Animals and their World

Kids, Families, and Pets

  •       $150 Gift Certificate to DC-area pet store WylieWagg and Three 1-hour Personalized Sessions of Pet Training

Sports Memorabilia

  •        Exclusive Golden Lion Tamarin Association Soccer Ball

Tours - National Zoo

  •        Animal Painting Experience with an Armadillo!
  •        Golden Lion Tamarin Enrichment Experience
  •        Incredibly Rare Treat – Paint with the Great Apes at the National Zoo!
  •        Join an Animal Painting Experience with a Naked Mole Rat!
  •        Learn how to take amazing shots with this PHOTO SAFARI at the National Zoo!
  •        Shadow a Smithsonian Veterinarian at the National Zoo
  •        Sloth Experience! Get up close and personal with a two-toed sloth at the National Zoo!
  •        Meet NZP’s Gorillas and Orangs behind-the-scenes at the Great Ape House!

Tours – Zoos and More

  •        Animal Encounters at Audubon Zoo in New Orleans
  •        Behind-the-Scene Rainforest Adventure at Monkey Jungle in Miami
  •        Behind-the-Scenes Tour of  the World Renowned National Aquarium in Baltimore
  •        Behind-the-Scenes Tour of Zoo Miami
  •        Behind-the-scenes tour of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History's Mammal Collection
  •        Capybara Experience at the Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation Society
  •        Cheetah Encounter at Wellington Zoo in New Zealand
  •        Guided Tour of the Bronx Zoo’s Congo Exhibit
  •        Hidden Harpers Ferry Guided Walk and Two Passes to Aerial Adventure Park
  •        Panda Tour at Atlanta Zoo
  •        Panda Tour at San Diego Zoo
  •        Primate Power – Tour of Philadelphia Zoo’s Rare Animal Conservation Center and Peco Primate Reserve
  •        Tour of Sant Ocean Hall at the National Museum of Natural History
  •       VIP Behind-the-Scenes Experience with the Chimpanzees at Taronga Zoo, Sydney, Australia
  •        Zoo Atlanta – VIP Tour of State-of-the-Art Primate Facilities

Travel & Staycations

  •        Four Night Stay at Sea Colony, Bethany Beach, Delaware

Zoos - Unique Items

  •        Adopt a Golden Lion Tamarin in Brazil
  •        Brazilian Tamarin First-Day-Issue Postage Stamps
  •        Live Video Conference with the GLT Conservation Team in Brazil
  •        Meet the couple who taught zoo-born Golden Lion Tamarins to return to the wild!
  •        Name a Golden Lion Tamarin Baby Born in the Wild
  •        Restore 1 acre of forest for Golden Lion Tamarins in Brazil



Help Save GLTs this Holiday Season!

As we near the end of the year, we can reflect on many of the successes that we've celebrated this year for GLTs and the Atlantic Coastal Forest. However, GLTs still need our help to protect and connect their forest habitat. Consider giving the gift of tamarins to a loved one this holiday season, or support SGLT and AMLD as part of a year-end US tax deduction. Take a closer look at some of our donation options for 2014.

For $50, Sponsor GLT Devra!

Make a donation to Save the Golden Lion Tamarin in support of conservation efforts to save golden lion tamarins (GLTs) in perpetuity and choose a thank you gift for yourself or others. For more information on our 2014 gift, Sponsor GLT Devra, click here.

Make a donation of any amount to SGLT!

You can directly support golden lion tamarin conservation in Brazil. Help us reach our goal of 2000 GLTs living in 25,000 ha (about 62,000 acres) of connected and protected forest by 2025.  Make your tax deductible (in the U.S.) contribution to Save the Golden Lion Tamarin today! Click here for all of our donation options.

For $500, Name a GLT!

For a donation of $500, we are offering the opportunity to choose a name for one of these newly born infants or for a newly found adult GLT.  Past donors have given names such as Devra, Darci, Eduardo, and Jeremy, and until all of the new GLTs have been named, this is your chance to choose one for yourself or as a gift to someone special. For more information on how to name a GLT, click here.

Buy Thirteen Gold Monkeys!

Thirteen Gold Monkeys, by Benjamin Beck, scientist emeritus in the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and SGLT board member, is a novel based on the first years of the reintroduction of zoo-born golden lion tamarins to Brazil. It’s a story of hope, love, and unspeakable death in a disappearing Brazilian rainforest. A team of dogged conservationists tries to save this beautiful monkey species from certain extinction by reinforcing their numbers with tamarins born in zoos. Find out where to buy Thirteen Gold Monkeys here.

Make sure to use!

At no cost to you, Amazon will now donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible purchases when you shop at AmazonSmile ( AmazonSmile has the exact same products, prices and features as Amazon with the added benefit that you can support the conservation of GLTs every time you shop.  Since so many of you routinely shop on Amazon, this can help add up to substantial funding for GLTs. Find out more here.




PRESS RELEASE: New Census of Wild GLT Population


A recent census of Brazil’s endangered golden lion tamarins provides new hope for the species’ future

A 2014 census of endangered golden lion tamarins conducted throughout the species’ current geographic range in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, indicates that 3,200 individuals—double the previous estimate—live in four separate forest fragments. Experts in the biology of small populations agree that this number of these tiny primates, if living in a single block of forest, would be sufficient to save the species from extinction.

Centuries of deforestation and unplanned urban expansion in Brazil’s Atlantic Coastal Rainforest reduced the golden lion tamarin’s lowland forest habitat by 98%.  Remaining suitable forest was left in fragments, none large enough to support a viable tamarin population.  In the 1980s, when efforts to conserve these monkeys were initiated in Brazil, only a few hundred individuals were thought to exist in nature—all in a single watershed 60 miles northeast of the rapidly expanding city of Rio de Janeiro.

For over three decades, scientists working with Brazil’s Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado (AMLD; Golden Lion Tamarin Association) have been reintroducing zoo-born golden lion tamarins and translocating tamarins rescued from threatened forests.  AMLD also implemented long-term conservation education, sustainable agriculture and reforestation programs with local communities.  Over time, illegal capture of tamarins and deforestation dropped to nearly zero in the region. The number of tamarins estimated living in nature climbed slowly to 1,000 in 2000, and to 1,600 in 2005.  In 2003, the IUCN conservation status for the species was changed from “critically endangered” to “endangered”.

To conduct the 2014 census, AMLD scientists played prerecorded tamarin vocalizations to elicit responses from groups in forests throughout the species’ current geographic range, the São João River Basin, Rio de Janeiro state.  Results indicate that 3,200 golden lion tamarins live in four separate forest fragments.  This number of tamarins would be sufficient to save the species from extinction if the forest fragments are reconnected. AMLD is planting forest corridors on private lands to form these connections.

Dr. James Dietz, vice president of Save the Golden Lion Tamarin, a U.S. public charity created to support AMLD’s conservation work in Brazil said “I’m cautiously optimistic that AMLD will be able to reconnect just enough forest to keep golden lion tamarins from extinction for now.  Given the intense development in the region, protecting that reconnected forest for the long term will require constant monitoring and adaptive management. If we want golden lion tamarins to have a future, our challenge is to make sure that AMLD is always there to look after them.”

Photo caption: Golden lion tamarin mother and her triplet offspring, a rare occurrence.  Golden lion tamarins usually produce twins. The mother and father wear radio transmitter collars that permit AMLD managers to monitor the family group.

Photo credit: Andréia F. Martins, AMLD


Seminar on Regulation of Agroforestry and Fallow Land Practices 

July 10, 2014.   More than 100 participants representing farmers, municipal governments, and state and federal environment agencies from throughout the state of Rio de Janeiro gathered at the II Seminar on Regulation of Agroforestry and Fallow Land Practices in Rio de Janeiro, organized by the Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado (AMLD) and the AS-PTA (Family Agriculture and Agroecology) at the União Biological Reserve.

With the objective of discussing state regulations for agroforestry practices (INEA Resolution 86) and the Rural Environmental Land Registry (Cadastro Ambiental Rural - CAR) created in Brazil’s new Forest Code, the seminar brought together farm families and government environmental agencies to reduce conflicts and strengthen environmentally sustainable agriculture in the state.  Farm families raised many questions to better understand what compliance will be required on their properties.

The CAR is a fundamental tool for the process of compliance with environmental regulations on rural properties.  It consists of a database of geo-referenced information for each property, including boundaries of Areas of Permanent Protection (APPs), Legal Reserve (RL), remaining native vegetation, area zoned rural, areas of social interest and areas of public use, with the objective of producing a digital map from which the values of the areas are calculated for an environmental diagnostic. 

The INEA Resolution Number 086 defines criteria and procedures for the development, management, and exploitation of agroforestry systems and for the practice of fallow lands in Rio de Janeiro state.  Several items of the resolution still need adjustments for landowners to be able to carry out the required bureaucratic processes and continue work on their properties .

The seminar participants enjoyed breakfast and lunch prepared from foods produced on agroforestry plots on family farms in the region. The seminar was organized by the AMLD Environmental Extension Program, coordinated by Nelsinho Barbosa, and received financial support from the Usina Terma Electica Norte Fluminense.