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Known as emperor tamarins because of their fine white imperial-looking moustaches, numbers of these miniature monkeys are declining and the species has a scattered distribution, because what remains of its Amazonian rainforest habitat is becoming increasingly fragmented by deforestation for timber, farmland and housing.
Wild emperor tamarins are found in western Amazonia, where large rivers restrict their distribution. They live in small areas of lowland tropical rainforest in parts of Peru, Brazil and Bolivia.
In captivity emperor tamarins can breed at any time of year, but in the wild they are seasonal breeders, with births usually occurring between September and March. Pairs form breeding partnerships, which may last for many years. Groups of emperor tamarins often form mixed groups with another species, the saddle-backed tamarin.