Santa Barbara Zoo Welcomes Cotton-Top Tamarins

Source: Santa Barbara Zoo

The Santa Barbara Zoo recently welcomed Stella and Mini, two cotton-top tamarin siblings who arrived at the Santa Barbara Zoo earlier this month from the Central Florida Zoo. Stella is female and 6 ½ years old, and Mini is male and 5 ½ years old. Both were born at the Central Florida Zoo and came to Santa Barbara on a recommendation from the Species Survival Plan. 

Cotton-top tamarins are one of the smallest species of primates, and are found in a small area of northern Colombia where there are only about 6,000 individuals left in the wild. These small monkeys (they each weigh about 1 lb.) play an important role in rainforest ecology by dispersing digested seeds throughout the forest. They are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN due to deforestation and illegal pet trade. 

They vocalize using a shrill whistling sound that changes depending on what they are communicating to each other. These monkeys are named for the shock of white hair on the tops of their heads which stands out in contrast to the darker black and brown tones of the hair on the rest of their bodies. 

Guests can visit the cotton-tops in their new home next to the capybaras on Zoo Train Lane.

About Cotton-Top Tamarins

Cotton-top tamarins are named for the long white hair on their heads that looks like a wig perched on top. Like their larger relatives chimpanzees and baboons, cotton-tops commonly eat seeds. They play an important role in spreading seeds in tropical ecosystems because those seeds are eventually digested into feces that works as an excellent fertilizer with a high success rate for plant growth. These small primates (typically weighing in at less than one lb.) forage through the middle layer of the rainforest canopy for fruits and insects that make up much of their diet, though they’ve been known to eat larger vertebrates as well.

About the Santa Barbara Zoo

The Santa Barbara Zoo is open daily from 9  a.m. for members and 9:30 a.m. for general admission until 5 pm; general admission is $19.95 for adults, $14.95 for children 2-12, and free for children under 2. Parking is $11. The Santa Barbara Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).  AZA zoos are dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great visitor experience, and a better future for all living things. With its more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation and is the public’s link to helping animals in their native habitats. Visit


Written by sbzoo

The Santa Barbara Zoo is dedicated to the preservation, conservation, and enhancement of the natural world and its living treasures through education, research, and recreation. Learn more at

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