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Racine Zoo announces emperor tamarin is pregnant

Emperor tamarins

RACINE — The Racine Zoo announced on Friday, July 6 that Isabella, their female emperor tamarin, is once again pregnant. The zoo is one of only two places in North America that has been able to successfully breed emperor tamarins in recent years.

Over that time, the Zoo has developed an ultrasound project that has helped predict the due date of Isabella to within a matter of days. Crystal Champeau-Williams, Primary Primate Care Specialist at the Racine Zoo, said predicting Isabella’s due date to within two days last December was an exciting breakthrough in their research.

“Knowing when to expect offspring allows us to have staff on-hand to monitor mom and baby in those first critical hours post-birth,” Champeau-Williams said.

According to Champeau-Williams, the Racine Zoo’s research began in 2014 prior to Isabella’s first pregnancy. She started by using a fetal heart rate monitor on Isabella – the same device used on humans. Taking accurate fetal readings of an in vitro emperor tamarin that weighs only 1.4 ounces at birth proved to be a challenge.

The Racine Zoo became the only known facility in North America to do an ultrasound on a pregnant tamarin.

Over the years, staff collected as much data from Isabella’s pregnancies as possible by conducting ultrasounds every one-to-two weeks.