|Pied Tamarin monkey with babies on its back|
|The dead infant is dangling from its grip|
After the baby died, the zookeepers disappeared. I was in the gift shop when my wife came back and said the second baby was now being killed! Again, she went to the Zoo staff and reported the attack, and the zookeepers returned, again, too late.
After the second death, I wondered why they didn't segregate the second baby. Since I don't know much about zookeeping or pied tamarin monkeys, I thought the staff at the Zoo knew what they were doing. Or maybe the Zoo has a policy about not interfering with the natural parenting of their animals. Maybe there has never been an incident of raising a baby pied tamarin monkey without its parents, so separating it wasn't an option, since it would inevitably lead to death. Again, I'm not an expert in zoo-keeping or animal husbandry, so I didn't give it too much thought.
|Pied tamarin babies (not today's victims!)|
I also learned, with only a few minutes of research, that these kind of monkeys are cared for mostly by the males in the group, only turned over to the mother for nursing. They live in groups of between 4 and 15, with one alpha female, who, typically, is the only female allowed to breed. Infanticide is not unheard of, often a dominant female killing the babies of other breeding females in the group or when the mother is stressed and competing with other females.
|Adult pied tamarin monkey|
In fifteen minutes of research, I learned enough about these monkeys to know that several steps should be taken to help prevent the likelihood of infanticide in this endangered primate. First, don't house more than one gestating or competing female with the mother and babies. Second, be sure that, in addition to the mother, there are three or more males available to help with caring for the young. Perhaps the zookeepers took these steps, and more, to prevent the death of the pied tamarin babies. But given the results, perhaps they didn't.