There was some great Durrell news a few months ago, as keepers at the wildlife park announced the birth of a healthy male black lion tamarin. The baby, born on 22nd March, represents a great achievement for the conservation charity as this is the first black lion tamarin baby to have been successfully bred outside of Brazil in the last eight years.
Commenting on this exciting news Mark Brayshaw, Head of Durrell?s animal collection said ?This birth is great news; monitoring and successfully delivering the baby has been a very tricky event to manage. Predicting when the infant would be sufficiently developed yet intervening prior to natural parturition has been key and has involved dedicated input from the mammal team with lots of early mornings and late nights to monitor progress.?
There are currently nine critically endangered black lion tamarins, including the new baby, at Durrell?s headquarters in Jersey. In 1999 the Durrell team reached a crucial stage in the species? recovery programme, when a group of black lion tamarins trained in woods at the Trinity wildlife park were returned to Brazil for reintroduction to the wild.
This baby has been named Francisco after the Head of Durrell?s Veterinary Department who delivered him. He is the first healthy baby born to new mum Roxanne, who has previously lost two babies and suffered several miscarriages. Due to her previous problems the decision was made to monitor her four and a half month pregnancy carefully and to deliver the baby by caesarean section at the appropriate time.
At the park, all of Durrell?s tamarins have been trained to sit on scales so that they can be weighed remotely. Roxanne had also been trained to allow keepers to monitor her by ultra-sound through the enclosure mesh. This was done almost every day for a few months with a fake ultrasound device, meaning that when she did fall pregnant the team could check the development of the foetus without her being anesthetised
So far both mother and baby are doing well. The infant is being hand-reared and syringe fed every two hours throughout the day and night and over the next few weeks they will slowly teach him to lap milk from a dish and when he is able to do this successfully he can be returned to his family.