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Monkey business

The Great Monkey Rescue: Saving the Golden Lion Tamarins

Sandra Markle
Millbrook Press
2015
40 pp.
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Age Range: 9 – 12 years

Grade Level: 4 – 7

The Great Monkey Rescue is a soberly written yet inspiring guide through the near demise and science-assisted rebound of a squirrel-sized primate known as the golden lion tamarin. The easy-to-digest text is packed with interesting facts and set against vibrant pictures of bright orange
monkeys contrasted against lush green foliage. Golden lion tamarins live exclusively in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, an ecosystem that has shrunk to less than 10% of its original size in recent years.

Faced with a dwindling food supply and a diminishing habitat, the tamarin was nearly extinct 50 years ago. This launched an international effort to
breed the monkeys in captivity, along with parallel attempts to conserve their shrinking forest habitat. Markle explains clearly how captive breeding programs initially flailed, producing few offspring that often failed to thrive. The breeding programs became successful only when scientists recognized that tamarins prefer to live in small family-sized groups. Instead of removing the father after the mother gave birth, families were subsequently kept together, and the captive tamarin population began to grow.

By the mid-1980s, captive-born tamarins were being reintroduced to the now-protected natural habitat. Novel forest-management techniques such as connecting patches of forest with rows of trees continue to increase their range, helping to ensure healthy population growth. The rebound of the golden lion tamarin is truly something to celebrate.