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RACINE – The Racine Zoo, part of the emperor tamarin Species Survival Plan, welcomed two new babies over the Christmas holiday to the family. Parents Amelie and Pitino have now successfully added six offspring to the tamarin population in the past three years.

Born on Dec. 22, 2021, the twins are reported to be doing fantastically well. Tamarins are a species that relies on family dynamics. The babies can be found riding on the backs of family members, not just mom and dad. The four siblings, Vinny, Valentino, Debby Lou and Mattessich, take turns taxiing the pair around as well as mom and dad. This not only helps with the care of the babies but also gives the siblings experience for when they begin having their own babies.

Twin baby emperor tamarins ride on parents’ and siblings’ backs. Credit: Racine Zoo

There are only three zoos that have a successful breeding program for emperor tamarins. With the birth of the two newest bundles of joy, the Racine Zoo has now added 14 offspring since they began in the 2010s.

“We are so excited to welcome yet another generation of tamarins,” said Aszya Summers, Curator of Animal Care and Conservation Education at the Racine Zoo. “We are proud to be a part of the emperor tamarin Species Survival Plan, and our ability to continue to contribute to the sustainability of this species.”

Crystal Champeau is the primary primate specialist at the Racine Zoo. Champeau serves as a resource to other tamarin keepers nationwide. In order to make room for the newest additions, and in keeping with the natural order in the tamarin world, Amelie’s father, Marquis, and brothers, Jaques and Pierre, were moved to the Phoenix Zoo. Males naturally disperse from their families in the wild.

Visit the Vanishing Kingdom to see all eight tamarins and other primates. Credit: Racine Zoo

The eight resident emperor tamarins can be seen in their exhibit within the Vanishing Kingdom building at the Racine Zoo. As a species, these primates are incredibly curious and enjoy visitors. While the babies are still so small, riding on their family members’ backs is preferred, but they will begin to venture off on their own to discover their home before we know it.

Follow the Racine Zoo’s social media for the upcoming gender reveal as well as community voting on their names.

About the Racine Zoo

Nestled along the sandy shores of Lake Michigan, the Racine Zoo is open year-round. Hours: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., with the last admission at 3:30 p.m. Admission rates are: Members and children two and younger: free, children three years to 15 years: $7, seniors: $8, and adults: $9. For more information on the Racine Zoo, its programs and events, visit, call 262-636-9189 and find them on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

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