South American Expansion Opens At The Chattanooga Zoo

Friday, November 3, 2017

The tamarins are "HAIR AT LAST!" The Chattanooga Zoo announced the opening of its newest exhibit building, La Selva Amazonica. La Selva Amazonica is an additional exhibit building to the Corcovado Jungle area of the Zoo. The new exhibit, housing five species of small South American monkeys, is officially open to the public. 

The newly-constructed exhibit contains six outdoor and six indoor exhibits, and a spacious behind-the-scenes space for keeper work area. Currently this exhibit features zoo resident macaws, cotton top tamarins and pied tamarins, as well as new to the Zoo golden lion tamarins, emperor tamarins, and Geoffroy’s marmosets. As the animals get acclimated to their new home, more species will be added to these exhibits. In addition to adding to our animal collection with these new species, the zoo is also expanding its conservation reach to help save these New World monkeys in the wild. 

The golden lion tamarins, emperor tamarins, and Geoffroy’s marmosets that are now calling Chattanooga their home were acquired through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan Program (SSP) from other accredited institutions. The Chattanooga Zoo is now housing two golden lion tamarins, two emperor tamarins, and a group of seven Geoffroy’s marmosets. At this time, the golden lion and emperor tamarins are both recommended to breed through the SSP. 

Golden lion tamarins take their name from their impressive manes and are one of the most colorful and unique of the tamarin species. Golden lion tamarins are native to the coastal regions of southeastern Brazil and live in humid forest canopies, often remaining 30-100 feet off the ground. Currently, these beautiful tamarins are considered to be endangered of becoming extinct by the IUCN Red List. The emperor tamarin was named for its characteristic moustache, thought to bear a resemblance to the German emperor Wilhelm II. Emperor tamarins can be found in the southwestern Amazon region of South America and reside in tropical rainforest canopies, usually located in river basins. Emperor tamarins are considered by the IUCN Red List as least concern. Geoffroy’s marmosets are small, squirrel-like monkeys with many unusual features among primates. These omnivores are native to the lowland rainforests of Brazil. According to the IUCN Red List, Geoffroy’s marmosets hold a least concern conservation status. 

In efforts to educate others on animal conservation, the Chattanooga Zoo has chosen to design the exhibits to interpret the stages of deforestation in South America. The interpretation design was created and implemented solely by the zoo’s in-house staff. As guests walk around the building enjoying the exhibits, they will experience a lush and thriving jungle, the clearing of these forests, and ultimately ending in a city setting representing the habitats that these surviving animals are forced to live in due to rapid growing deforestation. After experiencing deforestation through this exhibit and learning about the animals that inhabit these rainforests, we hope guests are encouraged and inspired to conserve wildlife and our environment. 

“The interpretation for this new exhibit is a true representation of why our staff is so passionate about animal care and conservation,” said Chattanooga Zoo President and CEO, Dardenelle Long. “As you walk through this exhibit, we hope that you too will recognize the importance of your actions as they affect our wildlife and environment.” 

An official ceremony for the new exhibit is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Nov. 18, at 10 a.m. The grand opening ceremony is open to the public and media. For more information, please contact the Chattanooga Zoo Marketing & Communications Department at 423-697-1322 X 5703 or

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