Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 17:24 EDT

Golden Lion Tamarin

The golden lion tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia), or golden marmoset, is a small New World monkey of the family Cebidae. It is native to the humid coastal forests of Brazil. The golden lion tamarin is an endangered species and among the most rare animals in the world. It has an estimated wild population of 1,000 individuals and a captive population of approximately 500.


As its name would suggest, this lion tamarin is reddish orange to golden brown in color. Its hair is longer and darker around the face, forming a mane on top of the head and on the cheeks and throat. Its limbs are slender yet capable with sharp claws. The sharp claws benefit its strictly tree living life. The tail and forepaws of this monkey may have a black coloration. Its body may be up to 13.19 in (335 mm) long and its tail up to 15.75 in (400 mm). The golden lion tamarin male reaches a maximum weight of just 24.68 ounces (700 grams) in the wild though higher weights can be found in captivity. The pregnant female may weigh up to 27.87 ounces (790 grams) but a non-gestating female typically weighs closer to 19.4 ounces (550 grams).

Behavior and reproduction

The Golden Lion Tamarin is diurnal and primarily arboreal, forming small groups of up to fourteen individuals. They are led by a breeding pair, occasionally two unrelated males may be involved, but only one typically mates with the lead female.

Fully mature at 2 to 3 years, the golden lion tamarin is able to breed at 18 months of age. The breeding season is from September to March. Gestation lasts for 126 to 130 days, usually ending in twin births. Sometimes, there may be up to two litters annually. The young tamarins are weaned after just 90 days. Unfortunately, less than half of infants survive their first year of life. If they do, a lifespan of 8 to 15 years can be expected. One captive tamarin has been reported to be 28 years old.

Golden Lion Tamarin