CONCHETTA, the cotton-top tamarin monkey stolen from Alma Park Zoo 18 months ago, has had twins. It was her second pregnancy since her return after disappearing in October 2010. Her original mate Tonto was found bludgeoned to death soon after the abduction but Conchetta was missing for four months.
Zoo curator Heather Hesterman said Conchetta’s tiny twins, about 7cm long, had been riding on the back of their dad, and Conchetta’s new partner, Manny.
Male tamarins do most of the caring, even helping at births. They carry the young except for when the mother nurses them. Keepers have been giving the family plenty of privacy so mum and dad have the best shot at rearing both offspring.
“The twins both appear strong and are holding on to their parents very well,” Dr Hesterman said. “They are also starting to lift their heads and look around. With as few as 5000 individuals remaining in the wild, this little primate needs all the help it can get.”
Zoo head keeper Alison Wright said cotton tops did well in captivity but there were only a few to breed from in Australia.
“There are only three or four breeding pairs,” she said.
“They have been used in medical research and they have lost a lot of numbers due to (Colombian) habitat destruction for things like dam building.”
Conchetta, 12, should breed for about three more years and live to about 20.