These tiny punks of the primate world are in serious danger of extinction in their native Colombia because of widespread deforestation for timber, agriculture and housing.
In 1990 a group of five cotton-tops were the first of Durrell’s New World monkeys to be released from their enclosure to live free in an area of woodland. Their adaptation to this new way of life was closely monitored and the experiment proved a great success.
Since then various groups of tamarin and marmoset species have learned how to thrive in this more complex environment. As well as replicating their natural habitat for those animals who will remain in our conservation care, it also acts as a training ground to ensure adaptation for those primates which are part of Durrell’s release programme back to their native rainforest.
Ironically, Durrell’s cotton-tops in Jersey came to us due to their past popularity in medical research, with two pairs being donated in 1973 by a UK chemical manufacturer that thankfully realised the error of its ways. Large numbers of these tamarins were also exported from their natural habitat for the pet trade, but these days such activity is illegal and cotton-tops are mainly at risk from loss of their habitat.