Cipo Mormoset-08
Black-tufted marmosets of Brazil

There are troops running rampant in parts of Sao Paulo, jumping from trees to roofs and back again, and running along telephone wires, one behind the other, owning the world. They’re typically jungle canopy dwellers, but thousands have made their homes in the urban world, where they live high in the trees, typically in palm trees where cats can’t get to them.

These black-tufted marmosets live in family troops, and eat local bird eggs and wild bananas. In the jungle, these families change their sleeping places regularly, to thwart predators, but in the urban landscape, they tend to stick to particular trees, easily accessible from roofs or wires, but secure from predator attack from below.

The parks and tree-lined neighborhoods of Sao Paulo house thousands of these families, and it is unclear how many were originally pets who were later let loose in neighborhoods, where they have continued to perpetuate their numbers, until now many residents view them as pests rather than as exotic guests. The family units mate one pair at a time, and the other family members help to raise the young, which cling to mother’s back as the family moves throughout the day.

Baby clinging to mother's back
Baby clinging to mother’s back

Our Consul General’s yard has one family living among the trees and rooftops. Last week, a baby fell off its mother’s back, and the CG’s wife tried to help, but had trouble getting near the monkey as its family circled to protect it.

Placating the monkeys with bananas. Injured baby in foreground. (Photos of the marmosets courtesy of Stella Agad Parugao)

She finally managed to get the baby into a box, which she placed in the garage, away from potential predators. It appeared that the baby had an injured hip or leg, since it couldn’t support its weight when it tried to climb.

Baby marmoset in a box

Its family gathered around in consternation, and wouldn’t let her get near it again.

Vigilant guardian
Guarding the baby

So she did the next best thing: she put out an all-points bulletin on today’s equivalent of the jungle drum: the International Newcomers of Sao Paulo Facebook page. Have a hurt monkey, can’t get near it, what shall I do?

Within minutes, there were several responses listing the website URLs of a couple of animal-rescue groups in Sao Paulo. Not long after, a rescuer arrived to take the baby to Ibirapuera Park, where it will be mended and cared for. We don’t know whether it will be returned to the CG’s yard once healed.

Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.