Racine Zoo announces bittersweet birth of Emperor tamarin
RACINE — The Racine Zoo announced the birth of another Emperor tamarin infant on Jan. 23. She was named Bella after her birth mother.
Zoo officials say the announcement of Bella’s arrival is bittersweet because five days after giving birth, Bella’s mother Isabella passed away unexpectedly. After an animal autopsy, results revealed Isabella passed away from a cardiac condition.
Racine Zoo keepers have cared for her through six successful pregnancies. Isabella was also the first Emperor tamarin to work with her keepers for voluntary ultrasounds, teaching keepers and scientists valuable information about tamarin gestation.
Although tamarin families usually work together to take care of infants, officials say in this case, the zookeepers intervened to ensure Bella’s survival. Keepers were determined to give her the best chance, immediately putting their lives on hold to work 24/7 to give her the best care possible.
This human-assisted rearing of Bella included close monitoring and tamarin formula feedings eight times per day during her first weeks of life. Infants cannot regulate their body temperatures on their own until they are about 23 days old. So Bella lived in a modified human infant incubator in close proximity to the tamarin exhibit to retain their familial bond. The family would watch the zookeepers closely while she was being fed and had opportunities to touch and smell Bella during this time, an important aspect of their relationship building. The keepers also incorporated exercise time for Bella to prepare her to safely maneuver around the exhibit.