Nigel the tamarin monkey: Drusillas Zoo Park newborn helping save endangered species & unpopular name ‘Nigel’

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The birth of a cotton-top tamarin monkey named Nigel is set to highlight ‘critically endangered’ christian name, zookeepers reveal

Meet Nigel: the cotton-top tamarin monkey that was Drusillas Zoo Park’s latest arrival in December 2023, and it is looking to raise awareness not just regarding his species but the name ‘Nigel’ itself. The species is one of the most threatened primates in the world - there are less than 6,000 remaining in the wild in Colombian rainforests.

Meanwhile, the name Nigel also looks like it might end up on an endangered list, as according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), no listed babies were called Nigel between 2020-2021, while data for the past two years is unclear. It means that by 2050, the UK might be a Nigel free zone.

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Speaking about the decision to given the rare cotton-top tamarin the name Nigel, head keeper at the Alfriston, East Sussex zoo Gemma Romanis said: “It made me feel a little sad that these names are disappearing, and I thought it could be a fun tradition to give our most endangered animals names that no one chooses anymore.”

“It also becomes an entertaining way to raise awareness of the threats many of our species’ face in the wild, the more people talking about conservation the better, and it points more people to the amazing work that zoos across the country do to ensure the future survival of the world’s most threatened animals.”

Nigel is now settling in with Florencia and Pasto’s nine other offspring. Pasto is heralded by the team as ‘an amazing dad’ who always takes his turn holding the baby and gives mum lots of rest time, the head keeper also revealed. “As well as being totally adorable, the cause for celebration is that much more when we successfully breed a critically endangered species at Drusillas.”

"Cotton-tops are under threat of extinction in the wild due to extensive deforestation and the illegal pet trade, so the healthy arrival of Nigel provides a small but crucial boost for the population, and we’re really proud to play our part in the future survival of this beautiful primate” Romanis concluded.

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