I just returned from Colombia, where Aug. 15 was Day of the Cotton-top Tamarin, a national holiday in which communities come together to help save one of the country’s critically endangered monkeys. As you can see in the photos, kids and their families join in the fun as they create dances, songs and even parades showing how they are all working together to help protect this tiny one-pound monkey found only in the tropical forests of northwest Colombia.

Dancers in Cotton-top Tamarin Costumes

With fewer than 7,000 cotton-top tamarins left in the wild, the Disney Conservation Fund and Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment selected cotton-tops as one of the 10 focus animals as part of their efforts to “Reverse the Decline” of at-risk wildlife. Disney has joined Proyecto Tití in helping save their forest habitats and protect cotton-tops from the illegal wildlife trade. And the good news is that we have a lot of reasons to celebrate!

Dancers in Cotton-top Tamarin Costumes

Cotton-top Tamarin Queen Parade-Dancers in Tree Costumes

Proyecto Tití works to create more forest habitat for cotton-top tamarins by establishing protected forest reserves and by working with local farmers who have small forest patches on their property. By connecting these small forest patches together, Proyecto Tití creates corridors for wildlife to move safely through the region. In exchange, the farmers receive assistance by learning new farming practices that increase their ability to grow food for their families. Their children are also part of Proyecto Tití education programs in local schools that get kids involved in helping care for cotton-tops.

Reducing the amount of plastic bags that are polluting the forests and waterways is an important step in creating a healthy environment for cotton-tops. Proyecto Tití works with local artisans to create eco-mochilas, tote bags crocheted from recycled plastic bags. Through this effort, we have successfully diverted more than 3 million plastic bags from polluting the environment. Now the artisans have a stable source of income to support their families, the cotton-tops’ home is free of plastic litter, and you too can help save cotton-tops by purchasing an eco-mochila at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

It gives me hope for the future when I see how the Day of the Cotton-top Tamarin celebration continues to grow each and every year and how a one-pound monkey has had such a positive impact on the lives of so many people! Colombians caring about protecting cotton-top tamarins are showing how it can be done each and every day! You can help, too, by taking action:

  • Buy recycled forest-friendly products (like paper and pencils) to help reduce forest destruction.
  • Purchase handmade eco-mochila bags, or cotton-top tamarin plush toys, which help Colombian families earn income and reduce their dependence on forest resources.
  • Say no thank you to plastic bags and carry a reusable bag instead. This helps to reduce waste and lessen the impact on your local ecosystem.
  • You can also reduce waste by recycling cans, plastics and papers, and choosing reusable items rather than disposable.