A simple tube links a cluster of poplar trees to an existing monkey enclosure which houses a group of five emperor tamarins, giving the troop access to tree tops so they can jump freely amongst the canopy whilst the public look on below.
Tony Dobbs, Team Leader of Primates, said: “The group of three females and two males have had access to the tree tops for the past six weeks and can now be seen outside most days at some point or another. This is the first exhibit of its kind at Twycross Zoo and it’s already proved really popular with our visitors.”
Emperor tamarins are small New World monkeys, a term describing monkeys from South and Central America. Their name originates from their distinctive curly white moustache, which is said to have reminded explorers of the German emperor Wilhelm II.
Tony went on to say: “The new extension to the exhibit provides our tamarins with a more enriched setting, increased living space and twice as much room to display natural behaviours in an environment which mirrors their life in the wild.
“The exhibit was designed with the species in mind so we don’t have to worry about the monkeys getting away! They’re a family unit and won’t naturally move away from the rest of the group, and in the wild they would avoid the forest floor due to predators. Their new exhibit is a positive step towards mimicking their environment in the wild.”
The main threat to emperor tamarins in the wild is habitat loss. Their previously remote habitat is being harvested for logging and cattle ranching as well as increasing the road system.
Dr Charlotte Macdonald, Curator of Living Collections, added: “Primate habitat is threatened across the world, with species numbers declining throughout the tropics. Twycross Zoo contributes significantly to the conservation of primates through captive breeding programmes, supporting conservation projects in range countries and raising awareness of the plight of wild primates.