Our old friend Solita is celebrating her 24th birthday today, making her the oldest Cotton-top Tamarin in the region!
Solita currently lives in Queensland at the Alexandra Park Zoo with her daughter. But having spent around 13 years of her life with us at Perth Zoo, our keepers have fond memories of the tiny primate.
To congratulate her on the birthday milestone, we’re taking a walk down memory lane with Perth Zoo primate supervisor Holly Thompson to look at the conservation impact Solita has had.
“Hip hip hooray to Solita and to Perth Zoo and Alexandra Park Zoo. This milestone is a testament to the excellent care Solita's recieved," Holly said.
“I remember when Solita arrived at Perth Zoo back in 2002, it was around the same time I joined the team and started my career with the Zoo.
“She had travelled all the way from North America and was paired with a male tamarin called Fuerte, who had recently joined us from New Zealand.
“The species are critically endangered, so it was hoped these two tamarins would hit it off and contribute a new genetic line to the regional breeding program - and it was a match made in heaven! The two bonded and were successful breeders."
True to the species, Solita and Fuerte formed a large family group and at a time had up to nine offspring at once, with babies aged from newborn all the way up to nine years old.
In 2013, the family had grown to have 11 members and it was time for Solita and Fuerte to part and allow the next generation of tamarins to continue their successful breeding legacy.
Solita and Fuerte’s offspring have gone on to breed with other Cotton-top tamarins in zoos all around the country, ensuring a healthy population of the species thrives.
“Cotton-top tamarins are critically endangered in the wild, but our conservation colleagues in the field from Proyecto Titi are doing a fantastic job studying the species and conserving them,” Holly said.
“We are currently in touch with Proyecto Titi to gain their assistance with a behavioural ethogram for the species, and to learn even more about how Perth Zoo and the wider region can provide the best possible care for them.”
Solita and her long lineage are a prime example of the work good zoos achieve through coordinated regional breeding programs, working to save species from extinction.
Happy birthday, Solita!