Well-travelled cotton-top tamarin Solita is celebrating her 23rd birthday this weekend at Alexandra Park Zoo, making her one of the oldest cotton-top tamarins in the world.
With the average age of a cotton-top tamarin currently 13.5 years, Solita has lived an eventful life since being born in America, spending her early years travelling between the US and Canada.
After years of travel, Solita headed to Perth Zoo where zookeepers eventually begun looking for a facility to take on tamarins that would no longer form part of a breeding program.
She then found her home in Bundaberg’s Alexandra Park Zoo in 2015.
Zookeeper Laura Billing said the critically endangered cotton top tamarins were lucky to have Solita, who spent the majority of her life bringing up the population numbers.
“This is a very impressive age and milestone to hit as Solita has been a critical part of the breeding program in captivity over her lifetime to increase her population,” she said.
Solita’s 23rd birthday marks a special occasion as she becomes one of the oldest cotton-top tamarins in the world.
The oldest recorded species of her kind lived to be 24.
“On her birthday Solita will be getting a special present, a paper mache balloon that we make especially for birthdays,” Laura said.
“We will put mealworms and boiled eggs in them which are her favourite treats.”
Mayor Jack Dempsey wished Solita a happy birthday and encouraged the community to get down to the zoo to see everything on display.
“Solita is an outstanding star with plenty of character and charisma,” he said.
“Being a mother, it is fitting to celebrate her birthday the weekend after Mother’s Day.
“It is a great reason for families to get out, share our beautiful environment and come down and be one with some of the greatest creatures in the world.”
Cotton–tops are social animals and at the zoo, they are most active during the day.
Visitors are encouraged to spend some time at the exhibit to hear their range of calls, which vary from birdlike chirps to trills and screams, with some calls so high pitched they can’t be heard by human ears.
The Alexandra Park Zoo is open Saturday and Sunday, 9:30am – 4:30pm, located at Alexandra Park on Quay St, Bundaberg West.