Alexandra Park Zoo's cotton-top tamarin Solita has just celebrated a milestone birthday, making her the oldest of her kind in Australia.
Solita turned 24 on Sunday 15 May and while that may seem a sprightly age for a human, in monkey years it puts the old girl in at great-grandma status.
The pint-sized mammal was born in America and spent much of her early life travelling back and forth to Canada before heading to Perth Zoo for a breeding program.
She was then moved to Alexandra Park Zoo alongside her daughter Turbo in 2015 as part of ongoing conservation efforts.
Animal Welfare and Life Sciences Wildlife Conservation and Science Senior Manager Amanda Embury is responsible for finding homes for all captive cotton-top tamarins in Australia and said Solita had an impressive history.
“Solita is currently the oldest living cotton-top tamarin in our region, with the next oldest being just 20 years of age,” she said.
“While there is no definitive information on these figures, the latest information suggests the world's current oldest is 26 years.”
Solita birthday milestone significant
Reaching her 24th lap around the sun is a remarkable feat for Solita, with cotton-tops known to have an average lifespan of just 13.5 years.
With her old age comes plenty of experience, according to Amanda, who said Solita had contributed greatly to ongoing efforts in boosting cotton-top tamarin numbers.
“Solita has had 24 offspring during her life, born in 12 litters of which nine survived,” she said.
“That is a significant contribution to the regional population!”
Amanda said it was these breeding and conservation efforts that were helping to keep animals like Solita thriving.
“Cotton-top tamarins are a species that have been used extensively for medical research, with tens of thousands being exported from Colombia during the 1970s,” she said.
“Colombia opted to ban the export of cotton-top tamarins to help protect the dwindling population.
“Housing and display of cotton-top tamarins at Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA) zoos can help to support conservation projects like Proyecto Titi, which is working to rebuild populations in Columbia and beyond.”
Solita's birthday celebrated with fruit ‘cake'
Parks and Gardens portfolio spokesperson Cr Wayne Honor said Alexandra Park Zoo staff had planned a special cake for Solita to mark her milestone birthday.
“Solita was presented with a cake made entirely of oranges and blueberries and garnished with some protein-packed meal worms, her favourite treats!” he said.
“Our cotton-top tamarins are absolutely marvellous creatures and their inquisitive nature make them a joy to watch.
“If you are visiting the zoo in the next few days, don't forget to drop in to say a big happy birthday to Solita!”
Find out more about Alexandra Park Zoo here.