Aptly named for the tuft of white hair on its head, the cotton-top tamarin is
only found in the wild in northwestern Colombia. The cotton-top tamarin can
survive in both Colombia's dry thorn forests and wet tropical forests, where it
maintains a steady diet of fruits and insects.
The tamarin weighs only 400-700 grams (about 1-.1.5 pounds). Its body and tail
(the tail is used to balance during climbing and jumping) measures in total
about 46 centimeters (18 inches).
While only one female in a troop gives birth, all of the tamarins care for the
infants, in a system where parental care is learned rather than instinctive.
Before the species was declared endangered and banned from exportation in 1973,
the cotton-top tamarin was threatened by its heavy use in biomedical research.
Now its biggest threats are deforestation, and its popularity in the local
Colombian pet trade.