Zoo Accidentally Freezes Rare Monkeys to Death

Cotton-top tamarins were left outside, PETA wants feds to investigate
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 14, 2015 2:01 PM CST
Zoo Accidentally Freezes Rare Monkeys to Death
A cotton-top tamarin munches on a cicada turned loose in its habitat in this 2007 file photo at Brookfield Zoo in Illinois.   (AP Photo/Brookfield Zoo, Jim Schulz)

There are about 7,800 cotton-top tamarins left on the planet, 1,800 of them in captivity—and two fewer of the species of tiny monkey the AP dubs "critically endangered" after a Louisiana zookeeper apparently forgot about them and left them to freeze to death. The one-pound tamarins, which originate in a pocket of Colombian tropics, like it hot—between 76 and 85 degrees—and temps at the Alexandria Zoological Park last Wednesday dipped down into the teens, killing two while a third survived. City officials say an investigation is ongoing, though "this appears to have happened as a result of human error and not a system problem." The zookeeper was initially put on administrative leave, but resigned Monday.

Predictably unimpressed is PETA, which was never a fan of zoos to begin with and is calling for a federal investigation, reports the Alexandria Town Talk. Says deputy general counsel Delcianna Winders, "These tamarins lived a sad life of deprivation in captivity, and their deaths were totally preventable. This fatal neglect is all too common in zoos and other places where animals are displayed for human amusement, and that's why PETA's motto reads, in part, that 'animals are not ours to use for entertainment.'" In a letter bemoaning the zoo's "gross oversight," it's asking the USDA to look into violations of the Animal Welfare Act and "hold the zoo fully accountable. (Things turned out much better for a rhino who survived a poaching attempt and gave birth Tuesday.)

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