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Nov 28, 2011

Pied tamarin conservation

Pied tamarin conservation breeding programme

The pied tamarin (Saguinus bicolor), listed as Endangered by IUCN, appears more sensitive to stress in captivity than other callitrichids and is prone to related health and behavioural problems such as wasting syndrome and infanticide.

Durrell began working with pied tamarins in 1991, taking over management of the EEP in 2000, and has achieved progressive and substantial improvements in disease incidence, mortality and breeding success. Species-specific husbandry and veterinary protocols and dietary modifications were developed to address health issues.

Hand-rearing has been crucial in increasing numbers. Fostering and rapid re-integration into families have reduced behavioural problems. Tamarins bred at Durrell have gone on to bolster both the European and world-wide captive population, making a substantial contribution to ensuring its viability. 

In 2005, Durrell constructed 9 large off-show units (in addition to an existing 15) that allowed callitrichids to be housed with relatively little disturbance, away from public view, and in much larger numbers than would traditionally be tolerated purely for exhibit value.  This in turn aided non-invasive research that has led to management changes not only at Durrell but in other collections, and for similarly challenging species elsewhere. Studies have shown that pied tamarins have higher baseline cortisol levels than some other callitrichid species, and that direct access to UV light, rather than just dietary supplementation with vitamin D3, is essential for skeletal health. 

Through the EEP Durrell has raised funds for an in-situ conservation project that manages, rescues and transfers pied tamarin groups from forest fragments, and reintroduces captive animals. 

Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

WINNER of BIAZA Award 2011 for Significant Contribution to Conservation Breeding

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