Auckland Zoo is thrilled with its growing cotton top tamarin family, as a third set of twins of the critically endangered monkeys were born this week.

Before the cotton top tamarin parents, Mr and Mrs Nuri, arrived in December 2017 from Italy and Germany, Auckland Zoo hadn't bred the South American new world monkey in 16 years.

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Auckland Zoo's primate keeper Jacqui Hooper says this is the second set of twins born to the Nuris this year - and their third set in total - and it is a significant birth considering only about 6000 cotton top tamarins exist in the wild.

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"Cotton top tamarins are critically endangered so every single birth is super important and to have another set of twins in the same year is amazing. We're so lucky," Hooper said.

Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

"Their society is pretty unique. The female will give birth and almost immediately the male and the other kids do a lot of the rearing, so the mum can eat enough food to produce all the milk."

Hooper says the zoo does not know the new twins' sex yet because, to prevent stress, they do not take the babies off the family.
"For now, they're just baby one and baby two," Hooper laughed.

But once the sex is known, a competition will be run for the public to name the new twins.