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Joining New Animal Ambassadors at The Rainforest Opening in June

2011-04-27

(Hong Kong – 27 April 2011) Good news continues to emerge from Ocean Park as it announced today the birth of a pair of red-handed tamarin twins, the newest members of the first red-handed tamarin family to take up residence in the Park. Born on 19 February 2011, the twins were welcomed by their six-year old parents and three siblings—one brother and two sisters, whose respective age ranges from 18 months to three years old. The Park made extensive preparations ahead of the arrival of the five tamarins from South Africa and the birth of the twins. The family of seven will greet guests for the first time at The Rainforest, Ocean Park’s new South American rainforest-themed area slated to open in June. They will join other new animal ambassadors to advocate for the protection of rainforest habitats and their biodiversity.

Mr. Peter Tse, Ocean Park’s Operations Manager for Terrestrial Life Sciences, said, “It was a wonderful surprise when we realized that the mother tamarin had already become pregnant before her arrival at the Park in December 2010. When our veterinarian noticed a slight bulge in her lower abdomen, we began monitoring her weight and her appetite. As her weight grew steadily and her appetite remained strong, we became certain that she was pregnant. The entire pregnancy and birthing process went very smoothly as the mother was very experienced and we provided her with the proper environment. For her to give birth without any human intervention, she must have found her new home very comfortable.”

When it was confirmed that the mother tamarin was pregnant, her condition was closely monitored every day to ensure the health of both the mother and the fetus. As tamarins are very sensitive to temperature, the enclosure was maintained at the optimal level of 25 degrees Celsius.

Mr. Tse added, “Our newly-born tamarins’ father and brother have been very keen to take care of the twins. Tamarin newborns are cared for primarily by their father and male siblings, which carry the babies on their back. Tamarin mothers, on the other hand, are responsible for bearing the fetus during the gestation period of about 140-168 days and for feeding the newborns. Our twins have developed healthily, having tripled their weight since their birth. The mother has already starting weaning them gradually by supplementing their milk diet with insects. They should be completely weaned within about a month.”

Native to the South American rainforest, red-handed tamarins spend most of their lives in the trees, jumping from one branch to another. To provide a suitable environment for them, caretakers specifically installed perches of different heights inside their enclosure. Nest boxes have also been placed so that the entire family can sleep together in comfort. To monitor the development of the newly-born twins, they are weighed every day. During their first week after being born, the tamarins were closely observed during the day time to make certain they are developing properly.

As this is the first time Ocean Park is taking care of red-handed tamarins, the Park’s animal caretakers learned from experts at Singapore Zoo about the proper enclosure, care techniques and diet for red-handed tamarins so that these new animal ambassadors at The Rainforest can receive the most attentive care possible.

As Ocean Park’s newest animal ambassadors, the tamarins will be joined by a diverse range of tropical animals at The Rainforest to connect guests with nature and to advocate for the protection of rainforests—the most biologically diverse habitats in the world—and the wise use of rainforest products.

The Rainforest, scheduled to open in June of this year, is one of the themed areas under the HK$5.55 billion Master Redevelopment Plan. Designed to present a South American rainforest setting, The Rainforest will feature exotic tropical animals, including the world’s smallest monkeys, the strongest beetles, the world’s largest toucan and the world’s largest rodent—capybara. Guests will also be able to enjoy the Rapids, a thrilling river ride, which courses through The Rainforest, while other guests can aim water guns on their rafts.