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Your morning adorable: Keepers raise orphaned baby emperor tamarins at the Denver Zoo

August 24, 2009 | 11:41 am

Emperor tamarin

Last month, the Denver Zoo welcomed twin emperor tamarin babies, both females, which zoo staff named Lara and Lucy. But just a few weeks after the twins were born, their mother, Yana, died unexpectedly of cancer. 

Beth Jo Schoeberl, the zoo's curator of primates and carnivores, expressed shock at losing Yana, who had shown no signs of illness prior to her death. But zoo staff didn't have much time to dwell on the incident -- they had Lara and Lucy to care for. Yana "was a wonderful mother and we are trying to fill her role in every way, providing the best care and nutrition for these twins," Schoeberl said of the effort to hand-raise the babies.  

Keepers now care for Lara and Lucy around the clock, feeding the tiny babies with a syringe and even grooming them with a toothbrush.  (Like we said, they're tiny.)

Emperor tamarins are native to the tropical rainforests of South America. Fun fact: Depending upon whom you ask, emperor tamarins were named for either German Emperor Wilhelm II or Austrian Emperor Francis Joseph I, both of whom were known for their exceedingly large mustaches. As adults, emperor tamarins grow their very own exceedingly large mustaches (see a photo of an adult tamarin, as well as more photos of Lara and Lucy, after the jump).

Emperor tamarin

One of the twins is groomed with a toothbrush by a keeper.

Emperor tamarin

Keepers have fashioned a tiny baby bottle of sorts using a syringe topped with a rubber nipple.

Emperor tamarin

One of the twins -- emperor tamarins don't grow their fancy facial hair until they're older.  But when they do, they'll look a lot like this:

Emperor tamarin

(Above, an adult emperor tamarin at the Los Angeles Zoo in 1997.)

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photos of Lara and Lucy (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th photos): Dave Parsons / Associated Press
Photo of an adult emperor tamarin: Los Angeles Times

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