Cotton-top tamarins are one of three Amazonian species of tamarin. They are found only in a small area of northwest Colombia in South America.
These critically endangered, tiny primates are a "new world monkey". There are an estimated 300 to 1,000 left living in the wild. About 1,800 live in captivity, with about 64% of those living in research laboratories.
"Fiat" (female, pictured at left) and "U2" (male, at right) lived in a research laboratory at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI until 2008. Black Pine was happy to provide the pair a permanent home to live out their remaining lives when the behavioral research program they were a part of came to an end.
The tamarin's role in the ecosystem is an important one. They ingest and void larger plant seeds than much larger primates living in the forest. These seeds have a high rate of success to repopulate plant growth.
The cotton-top tamarins are a joy to observe. They use more than 35 distinct sounds or combinations of sounds to communicate. Their faces are very expressive, and they glide easily through the trees, though they do not have opposable thumbs or a prehensile tail. Their fingernails are like claws, helping them grip as they climb and jump.