Happy Birthday Cadeau! Emperor Tamarin Monkey Turns One

Happy Birthday Cadeau! The Racine Zoo in Wisconsin is gearing up for a special birthday celebration on Wednesday. The zoo’s baby emperor tamarin will be turning 1-year-old on December 23, 2015.

Cadeau is somewhat rare, as she is the only emperor tamarin born in the last year and only one other has been born at a zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in the last three years, reports Fox6Now.

According to the Journal Times, Beth Heidorn, executive director of the Racine Zoo, released a news statement.

“Cadeau’s birth is a milestone for our zoo and for the species. We are one of only 11 AZA accredited institutions in North America displaying emperor tamarins, so Cadeau is truly a gift.”

Cadeau happens to be the French word for gift. The Racine Zoo’s primary primate specialist, Crystal Chamapeau-Williams, agreed with Heidorn.

“Emperor tamarin populations are in rapid decline, so we are actively supporting breeding initiatives to increase the number of births per year. According to the SSP, there are only six females in the breeding population across accredited institutions so Cadeau is a critical piece to future populations of emperor tamarins.”

Caddie is the first offspring of female Isabella and the male Marquis.

Nomally, the emperor tamarins give birth to twins, although it is not uncommon to birth only one, like Cadeau. The zoo hopes that Isabella and Marquis will breed again shortly to give Cadeau a brother or sister and to help support the AZA Species Survival Plan initiatives for the species.

Emperor tamarins (also known as the Brockway monkey) are small monkeys that dwell in trees. The are normally gray with a reddish orange tail and a silvery-brown crown. You can recognize them by their elongated white mustache, which extends past their shoulders on both sides.


They are so lightweight (a little over a pound) that they can hunt for insects and fruits on the outermost tips of tree branches. They will reach a length of 9-10 inches, plus a long tail of about 14-16 inches.

They can be found in the rainforests of northwestern Bolivia, northwestern Brazil, and extreme southeastern Peru, states the Racine Zoo on their webpage.

The monkeys live in extended family groups, ranging from two up to 15. They are awake during the day (diurnal), and will walk or run across the forest floor, although they can leap across branches.

Wikipedia reports that the species were once thought to be monogamous, but observations in the wild have shown they have a polyandrous mating system. This means that one female mates with many males, ensuring that the males are more invested in the young.

Because of the prevalence of multiples births, having helpers to care for the young is crucial for the newborn’s survival. Older female offspring will often help out as will males that often interact with the dominant female. The males seem to spend the most time with the young, carrying them around while the mother goes out to forage.

One of the largest threats to the survival of infant emperor tamarins is in the first 5-15 weeks, when they first start to explore their world. Falling out of the canopy of trees is the greatest danger during that time.

In the wild, the monkeys are active, graceful, playful, and friendly. In captivity, they are very interactive with people and quite social. They will display a need for tenderness, lying on their backs to get special attention from their handlers. They love have their fur stroked.

The Racine Zoo is planning a special Happy Birthday party for Cadeau, and the public is invited. It is located inside the Vanishing Kingdom on December 23, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with live animal chats at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. Come have hot chocolate, mini cupcakes and engage in fun emperor tamarin-themed crafts.

[Photo By Oli Scarff/Getty Images]