Golden lion tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia)

Golden lion tamarin

Just up the hill from the binturong and otters at Life among the trees

Fast facts

Status Endangered

Size Head-body: 26-33 cm; tail: 32-40 cm

Weight 700-800 g

Gestation 125-132 days

Young 2

Life span 15 years

What do I eat?

Golden lion tamarins are omnivorous. They eat fruits, flowers, nectar, gums and small animals including frogs, snails, lizards, spiders and insects.

Where do I live?

Golden lion tamarins are found only in the rainforests in the state of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. They are adaptable and able to live in degraded and secondary forests, as long as there are enough food sources, foraging sites and tree holes for them to sleep in.


Golden lion tamarins live in family groups, generally with between 4 and 8 members. Usually only one female per group will breed.  Golden lion tamarins usually give birth to twins. The young are carried constantly, mostly by their mother, for the first three weeks. All group members help to carry the young and will give them food when they start eating solids.  By ten weeks they spend most of the time off the backs of their mothers.


A wide range of predators prey on tamarins, including snakes, cats, buzzards, falcons, hawks and eagles.


Nearly thirty years of conservation efforts have resulted in golden lion tamarins being assessed as Endangered instead of Critically Endangered. Conservation strategies have included captive breeding programmes, reintroductions, relocating isolated groups to a protected area, and protecting some of the forests where they are found.

In the past, major threats to golden lion tamarins included habitat loss and fragmentation along with capture for pets and trade. Today, the main threat is the low population numbers and the limited possibilities for the population to increase in the fragmented and degraded forests where they live. Today, conservation focuses on reforestation and monitoring and managing the remaining populations.

Did you know?

Golden lion tamarins usually sleep in tree holes. They will also sleep in bamboo, vine tangles and bromeliads.

This species use their long fingers to forage for prey in nooks and crannies in plants and trees.

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