News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
March 31, 2023
NOTE: Scroll to end of press release to download photos.

Monkey Business at Brookfield Zoo
Squirrel Monkey Baby and Cotton-top Tamarins Make Debuts

Brookfield, Ill. — Guests visiting Brookfield Zoo will see a few new faces in its Tropic World: South America habitat—a squirrel monkey born on March 10 and two cotton-top tamarins, who recently arrived.
Squirrel Monkey
The squirrel monkey, whose gender is yet to be determined, was born to 8-year-old Gizmo, an experienced mother having given birth to five additional offspring. The baby’s sire is 8-year-old Zeus. The pairing of the parents was based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP). An SSP is a cooperative population management and conservation program for select species in accredited North American zoos and aquariums. Each plan manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable.

The infant will spend between 5 and 10 weeks riding on its mother’s back before venturing off to explore on its own. Young squirrel monkeys are weaned between 4 and 6 months of age, after which time they begin eating a diet of fruits, seeds, insects, small lizards, and bird eggs.

Zoogoers will notice that even with her baby on her back, Gizmo and the other squirrel monkeys are very adept climbers and move on all four limbs when walking or running across the tree branches. The tail is used more for balancing rather than gripping.

Although not endangered in their native tropical forests of northern Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, and Suriname, the species’ population is declining mainly due to hunting for meat, habitat loss, and the pet trade.
Cotton-top Tamarin Pair
It has been a few year’s since cotton-top tamarins lived at Brookfield Zoo. Now, guests can see a new pair on a peninsula they share with the Zoo’s Hoffman’s two-toed sloths in Tropic World. Sebastian, a 12-year-old male, and his mate, 8-year-old Cassidy, arrived recently from another accredited zoo. Their pairing is also based on a recommendation from AZA’s Species Survival Plan.

One of the smallest monkeys—measuring up to 10 inches in length not including the tail—the cotton-top tamarin weighs about 1 pound and is slightly bigger than a squirrel. The species is named after the massive crown of white hair, which is thought to serve a few purposes. One is to attract a mate during courtship rituals. Additionally, in certain situations, the tamarin may want to make itself appear bigger than it actually is by raising the hair on its head. When visiting the tamarins at the Zoo, guests may hear them vocalizing. They have quite the repertoire of calls, including whistles, trills, and chirps.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the cotton-top tamarin is critically endangered with only about 7,400 individuals remaining in the wild and the population decreasing. The main threats are the illegal pet trade and habitat loss. The species’ habitat of tropical forests in Columbia, South America, has been drastically reduced to approximately 5 percent due to deforestation, which is putting the cotton-top tamarin at risk of extinction.

Those interested in helping care for the squirrel monkeys or cotton-top tamarins at Brookfield Zoo can contribute to the Animal Adoption program. For $35, a recipient receives the Basic Package, which includes a 5-inch x 7-inch color photograph of the chosen species, a personalized certificate of adoption, a fact sheet on the species, an Animal Adoption program decal, and an invitation to the exclusive 2023 Animal Adoption summer event. To purchase, visit

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  Photo Captions (credit: Jim Schulz/CZS-Brookfield Zoo)
3081, 8186, and 8273: A squirrel monkey born at Brookfield Zoo on March 10 with its mom. The infant will spend between 5 and 10 weeks riding on its mother’s back before venturing off to explore on its own. Guests can see it at the Zoo’s Tropic World: South America habitat.
0377, 6109, 6202, and 6231: Brookfield Zoo is home to two new cotton-top tamarins who recently arrived from another accredited zoo. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), only about 7,400 individuals remaining in the wild and the population is decreasing due to deforestation and the illegal pet trade. The critically endangered monkeys can be seen in the Zoo’s Tropic World habitat.

About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by connecting people to wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. The Zoo is also accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, and the International Marine Animal Trainers’ Association. Brookfield Zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, and CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit



Sondra Katzen
Director of Public Relations
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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