EAZA Ex situ programme

Cotton-top tamarin

(Saguinus oedipus )

 Miranda Stevenson
Institution:   Bristol Zoo Gardens

EAZA Member Area


Bristol Zoo Gardens

IUCN Red List status


IUCN Red List CR


Programme roles

Direct Conservation icon  Insurance
Although no reintroductions or supplementations are currently planned, the global population has an essential role in providing insurance in case of catastrophes striking (part of) the still vulnerable wild population. It may also be the case that the EEP population contains genetic diversity that is no longer present in the wild. 

 Expertise/research (Genetics)
Molecular genetics research carried out by the ex situ community will generate valuable knowledge about the genetic structure of the captive and wild populations, which will guide future management strategies for the metapopulation. 

 Training (in range) 
The ex situ population supports activities beneficial to animals rescued in Colombia, such as developing reintroduction protocols for rescue centres (to avoid inappropriate releases) and building capacity in keeper skills for institutions in range countries. Various Callitrichid EEPs share this role, and there is a TAG-wide effort  to fulfil this role. 
Indirect Conservation icon  Education
Cotton-top tamarins can be used to explain to visitors the threats faced by this species in the wild (forest degradation and pet trade). The support of field conservation in Colombia also needs to be highlighted. Furthermore, this is an opportunity to explain to the visitor that behaviour and lifestyle changes can help preserve the rainforest.  

 Expertise/Training (in range in and ex situ)
There are several areas where ex situ expertise could assist the management of the in situ population: training in managing the species ex situ; research into biology, behaviour, veterinary aspects; genetic diversity of the species, as previously mentioned; lobbying and networking using EEP animals as ambassadors; providing educational materials as needed. 

 Fundraising (in situ conservation projects)
Generate financial support for the implementation of the in situ conservation strategies.

Programme partners

 Proyecto Titi


Programme numbers

In October 2022, the Cotton-top tamarin EEP had 350 animals in 161 institutions.

Programme highlights

  • EAZA published its 2021 Annual TAG report.
  • The EAZA Callitrichid TAG has a very active Facebook Group in which they share management experiences and news stories. The closed group is primarily intended for staff working with callitrichids in zoos or in the field. 
  • The Callitrichid TAG has a playlist on YouTube with videos about Callitrichids and their ex situ management. 
  • The EAZA Callitrichid TAG has elaborate Best Practice Guidelines available in English and Spanish.
  • In 2022 the EEP received a grant from the Primate Society of Great Britain for Proyecto Tiiti.

Best Practice Guidelines


LIFE logo with white paddingThis work is supported by the European Union LIFE NGO funding programme. The European Union is not responsible for the views displayed in publications and/or in conjunction with the activities for which the grant is used.