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Last Updated: Wednesday January 16 2008 15:32 GMT

Keepers save abandoned monkeys

The baby pied tamarins. Pic: Herald Express, Torquay

Two tiny endangered monkeys are being hand-reared at a zoo in Devon after their mother abandoned them.

The cute little pied tamarins, which are smaller than an adult's hand, were born on New Year's Eve at Paignton Zoo.

Padme and Chewie started off well, but when their mum started neglecting them they had to be rescued by keepers.

Now the keepers are taking turns to take the pair home at night to look after them. Pied tamarins are the most endangered of all the Amazon primates.

Chewie and Padme will need round-the-clock care for another six weeks before they can be reintroduced to their parents, Leia and Jedi.

One of the baby pied tamarins being fed. Pic: Herald Express, Torquay
Feeding time at the zoo

The zoo's head mammal keeper, Julian Chapman, said pied tamarins were critically endangered, which means there's a really high risk of them dying out in the wild in the near future.

"It is important that we get youngsters from this pair and continue their bloodline," he said. "Every youngster is vital to the future of the species."

The monkeys may be small, but in proportion to their body size, the pied tamarins have bigger brains than humans!

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