It’s Raining Cats and Tamarins in Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo’s Rainforest Building

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo continues to grow in exciting new ways as it executes its mission of conservation, education, research and recreation. The Zoo is now home to Pipoca, an almost two-year-old ocelot, and Leao, a seven-year-old Golden Lion tamarin. Both of the new arrivals have spent the past several weeks in quarantine, required for any new arrival. Managed by the AZA’s Species Survival Plan (SSP), inter-regional transfers are arranged with careful attention to gene diversity when placing animals in their new homes.

“Pipoca and Leao are both beautiful young animals that we are sure will quickly become Zoo favorites,” said Gregg Dancho, zoo director. “The Rainforest Building features multiple animals from tropical South America, including a black howler monkey, white-faced saki monkeys, Goeldi’s monkey, two-toed sloth, vampire bats, Yacare caimans and more. It’s a wonderful place to learn about the diversity of life found in rainforests.”

Pipoca, the Brazilian Ocelot

Pipoca was born on March 13, 2018. She can be found in the Zoo’s Rainforest Building. For a short period, the glass walls of the habitat will be fully or partially covered with paper to allow Pipoca to gradually adjust to her new surroundings in semi-privacy. As Pipoca becomes more comfortable, the paper will be removed, allowing guests to view her in a newly refurbished habitat.

Ocelots (Leopardus pardalis) are medium-sized, solitary cats native to the southwestern United States, Mexico, and Central and South America. Ocelots once ranged in large numbers from Arizona to Arkansas and Louisiana, but the fur and pet trades decimated the population. In the United States, fewer than 60 ocelots remain in two small populations 20 miles apart in south Texas near the Mexican border. These largely nocturnal cats use keen sight and hearing to hunt rabbits, rodents, iguanas, fish, and frogs. They also take to the trees and stalk monkeys or birds. Unlike many cats, they do not avoid water and can swim well.

Leao, the Golden Lion Tamarin

Leao arrived several weeks ago and has been undergoing a period of adjustment to his new surroundings. He can be found in the Rainforest Building as well. Considered the most beautiful of the four tamarin species, the Golden Lion tamarin is named for the thick mane of hair around his neck, reminiscent of the great cats of Africa. Golden Lion tamarins live primarily in the trees. They sleep in hollows at night and forage by day while traveling from branch to branch. Long fingers help them stay aloft and snare insects, fruit, lizards, and birds.

About Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo:

Let your curiosity run wild! Connecticut’s only zoo, celebrating its 98th anniversary this year, features 300 animals representing primarily North and South American species. Guests won’t want to miss our Amur tigers and leopards, Mexican and red wolves, and South American rainforest with free-flight aviary. Other highlights include the new Spider monkey habitat, the Natt Family Red Panda Habitat, the prairie dog exhibit with “pop-up” viewing areas, plus the Pampas Plains featuring maned wolves, Chacoan peccaries and Giant anteaters. Guests can grab a bite at the Peacock Café, eat in the Picnic Grove, and enjoy a ride on our colorful, indoor carousel. For more information, visit

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