Officials are now investigating the death of several primates including a 20-year old orangutan named Kutai in January and 6 (out of 9) rare cotton-top tamarin monkeys who perished mysteriously while in quarantine within two days after arriving at the Oregon Zoo on May 22. The remaining animals, one of which is a 5-week old baby tamarin, however, seem to be perfectly healthy according to Metro (the regional government that owns and operates the zoo) spokesman Jim Middaugh. He also added that so far necropsy results have been “inconclusive and tissue samples have been sent to a pathologist for examination.” More information regarding the cause of the deaths should be available in a few weeks. In the meantime, the zoo’s director Kim Smith, as well as veterinarian Mitch Finnegan have been fired for “sloppy care practices” related to Kutai's death.
Tamarins are small squirrel-sized monkeys of varying species including Emperor tamarins ( pictured here), cotton tops and lion-headed tamarins, etc.Native to South America, they are found in the Amazon Basin, northwestern Columbia, Bolivia, Peru and Guiana and are known to have a lifespan of 13-18 years (in captivity). While Middaugh announced that the nine tamarin monkeys arrived at the Oregon Zoo from the "east coast," he did not identify from which facility.