Saving the Golden Lion Tamarin

Zoos are no longer just a place to house animals for display and public education. Many zoos participate in programs to assist in the survival of endangered species, such as the golden lion tamarin. This primate is native to the coastal regions of the Amazon rain forest. The tamarins are threatened because their habitat is being split into small pieces and destroyed.

In the early 1970s, there were 91 golden lion tamarins in 26 different zoos. Biologists made a plan to help the species survive. The goal was to increase the number and genetic diversity of golden lion tamarins. As of 2007, there were 496 golden lion tamarins in 145 zoos around the world. Further, about 153 tamarins from the program have been reintroduced to the wild since 1984. These tamarins are part of a healthy wild population of more than 650.

Analyze and Conclude

    1. Use this data table to help you organize the data from Build Connections.

Number of Captive Golden Lion Tamarins

Number of Participating Zoos



  1. Use the formula below to find the percent by which the captive population of golden lion tamarins has increased since 1970.

percent increase = ( (new population – original population) / original population) × 100

  1. Until the captive population had reached a target size, biologists limited the number of tamarins that were reintroduced into the wild. What do you think the target size for the captive population is? Use the graph to explain your answer.


  1. Only 153 golden lion tamarins have been reintroduced from captivity. However, there is now a reintroduced population of about 650. Where did the other 497 come from?

Build Connections

When populations of wild animals become very small, do you think that they should be removed from the wild and brought into zoos? Why or why not?

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