Golden-headed lion tamarin
The golden-headed lion tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysomelas) is endemic to the severely threatened Atlantic coastal forest in the Brazilian state of Bahia. At present, only 10% of the original forest remains, with obvious consequences for the golden-headed lion tamarins. In the early years of the breeding programme, before any detailed research had been conducted in Brazil, the animals were bred primarily with the objective of fast reintroduction. Today, we know that reintroduction is not necessary as, despite the further decline of their natural habitat, there is still a reasonable population of golden-headed lion tamarins in the wild. It is nevertheless important to maintain the zoo population, because only a small proportion of the total number of golden-headed lion tamarins lives in protected areas. The zoo population also has an important educational role to play, especially to illustrate the threat to the flora and fauna in the species-rich Atlantic coastal rainforest.
From Antwerp ZOO, our researcher Peter Galbusera coordinates the breeding programme and conducts research aimed at maintaining as healthy a zoo population as possible.
In Brazil, our researcher Kristel De Vleeschouwer leads our own research station BioBrasil in close cooperation with Brazilian universities and conservationists. The aim of this research is to gain more insight into factors which affect the survival and reproduction of golden-headed lion tamarins in the fragmented remains of the forest.