The Buttonwood Park Zoo has a lot to celebrate this holiday season – including the birth of bearded emperor tamarin twins! Pepper, a 3-year-old bearded emperor tamarin, who came to the BPZoo in 2018 from Twycross Zoo in the United Kingdom, gave birth to the twins on October 20, 2019. This is the first offspring for both parents and the first time the BPZoo has witnessed the birth of Bearded Emperor Tamarins.

The twin’s father, Jack, a 4-year-old bearded emperor tamarin from the Blackpool Zoo in the United Kingdom, came to the BPZoo, along with Pepper, to help boost the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) population of this species. The Zoo’s Director, Keith Lovett, chairs the AZA’s New World Primate Taxonomic Advisory Group (NWPTAG). The NWPTAG has been actively collaborating with its counterparts in the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) to ensure the sustainability of healthy and genetically diverse populations of Central and South American monkeys. Additionally, these groups are working diligently to support the conservation of this species in the wild. Currently, there are only 33 Bearded Emperor Tamarins in 11 AZA institutions – including the 4 residing in New Bedford.

Regarding this birth, Mr. Lovett stated that “Since the opening of Rainforest, Rivers & Reefs in 2017 the Zoo has been successful in the management of several species of tamarins. This important birth will not only improve the genetic diversity of this species in North America, but allow the Zoo to raise awareness to the many field projects the Zoo supports for primates in the wild”.

Native to Bolivia, Brazil, and Peru, these small, tree dwelling monkeys reside in lowland tropical rainforest, typically between 80 – 95 feet elevation and their diet consists of tree sap, fruits, insects, and eggs. While they are not currently endangered, rapid deforestation, infrastructure construction and popularity within the illegal pet trade may threaten this species in the near

Come see Pepper, Jack and the two little ones in the Zoo’s innovative Rainforests, Rivers & Reefs exhibit on Friday, December 27, 2019 during “Visit the Zoo Day” and receive half off a child admission with the purchase of an adult admission. Zoos and aquariums see over 183 million annual visitors in the US and over 200 million worldwide- that’s more than the annual attendance of the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB combined!

The Zoo is located at 425 Hawthorn Street in New Bedford and is open from 9:00 am until 4:00 pm daily throughout the winter. Ticket prices for non-New Bedford Residents are $10 for adults/$6 for children 3-12; Ticket prices for New Bedford Residents are $7.50 for adults/$4.50 for children 3-12.