Golden Lion Tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia) | WWF

Did you know?

  • Golden lion tamarins usually give birth to twins.
  • The females' milk is richer in protein and ash than other primate groups.
  • Golden lion tamarins have claws instead of fingernails, a trait shared by all tamarins.
The golden lion tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia) also known as golden marmoset, is a small new world monkey. Native to the Atlantic coastal forests of Brazil, the golden lion tamarin is an endangered species and among the rarest animals in the world.

Physical Description

  • This tree-dwelling monkey has a small, rounded head surrounded by a thick, golden, lion-like mane that obscures its large ears.
  • The body and tail are covered with long, silky hair, ranging in colour from pale blond to reddish gold.
  • These animals have extremely long toes and fingers that end in claws.

Golden Lion Tamarin Conservation

The golden lion tamarin is listed as endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and IUCN.

Only about 800 are left in the wild, and about 30% of these were either relocated from depleted areas or released as part of a reintroduction programme. The primary threats to this species’ survival are continued loss of forest habitat and population fragmentation due to agriculture and urban development. Several public and private reserves for lion tamarins have been established in Brazil in an effort to preserve this species.

There are already 2 biological reserves in the Northeast region of the State of Rio de Janeiro and the headquarters of the Golden Lion Tamarin Conservation Programme. The birth of the 1,000th animal, announced on April 2001, was a landmark for the Golden Lion Tamarin Programme, WWF's first project in Brazil, started in 1971.

Over 30 years, the number of animals in the wild grew from around 200 to 1,000. Today the golden lion tamarin is also a national symbol in Brazil, having been selected by the Central Bank to appear on the new 20 Reais note. The tamarin was chosen after a public vote suggested by WWF. The golden lion tamarin is still threatened and conservation efforts must continue. The tamarin has to double its population to leave the list of endangered species.

    © WWF / Juan Pratginestos
The golden lion tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia) is just one of the unique inhabitants of the Atlantic Forest.
© WWF / Juan Pratginestos