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Phoenix Zoo monkey takes flight to new home, mate in Idaho

(Phoenix Zoo Photo)

PHOENIX — A monkey from the Phoenix Zoo has a new home and love match hundreds of miles away from the Valley.

Tunda, a 2-year-old female cotton-top tamarin, was permanently relocated to the zoo in Idaho Falls, Idaho, to become mates with a heartbroken male named Chad.

Chad’s mate of 20 years, Mani, died at the beginning of the month because of old age.

Tamarins are social and endangered — it’s estimated less than 1,000 still live in the wild — so Chad needed a new mate to maintain his health and well-being.

Tunda fit the bill perfectly because of her age and experience raising her younger siblings, which will prepare her for motherhood.

“Tunda is a very mellow monkey who excelled at helping raise her two younger siblings,” Mary Yoder, Phoenix Zoo’s collection manager of primates, said in a press release. “We are excited to know she will be an ambassador for her species and carry on her lineage through the SSP pairing with Chad in Idaho Falls.”

Tamarins are one of the rarest primates in the world and found in only a small, isolated area of forest in northwest Colombia, so Tunda’s excursion north was a big deal.

She was flown commercially to Idaho Falls from Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport on Allegiant Air to meet her new match.

Chad and Tunda will be monitored by animal care staff moving forward to make sure they are a good match and continue growing the species.

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