September 30, 2008

Zoo’s Care of Rare Monkeys Breeds Success

A westcountry zoo has been so successful in breeding critically endangered exotic monkeys that it is sending a pair to France to help conserve the species.

Newquay Zoo has been breeding the pied tamarins, one of the 25 most endangered primate species in the world. The shy animals are threatened by habitat loss in the Amazon forest of Brazil, their native environment.

John Meek, the zoo's animal collections manager, said: "We first held a breeding pair of this species in February 2006. They obviously like the Cornish climate as they are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity but have been doing extremely well here in Newquay.

"We now have the adult pair plus four youngsters, and the time has arrived for two females who are now around two years old to move on to another breeding group in Zoo Parc de Beauval in France.

"This will help to further the conservation efforts for this species. This really is a magnificent achievement and our keepers have done a brilliant job in creating the perfect environment for them to breed."

Pied Tamarins are part of the European Endangered Species Programme.

Urban growth and cattle ranching on the outskirts of Manaus, capital of Brazil's Amazonas state, has affected the wild population. In the wild, the animals forage for food that includes insects, ripe fruit, gum and nectar.

Pied tamarins are also threatened by the success of the red- handed tamarin in a similar way to the threat to native red squirrels by grey squirrels in the UK.

In January this year, the WMN reported that two pied tamarins were being hand-reared at Paignton Zoo after being rejected by their parents.

The pair, named Chewie and Padme after characters from Star Wars, were rescued by Paignton Zoo keeper Andrew Fry after their mother, Princess Leia, and father, Jedi, began to neglect them.

(c) 2008 Western Morning News, The Plymouth (UK). Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.