Como Zoo’s new twin emperor tamarins may be Gophers at heart now that they’ve been named after the University of Minnesota’s youngest football and basketball coaches — P.J. Fleck and Richard Pitino.
The young male primates, now known as Fleck and Pitino, were born Aug. 8 to parents Lara and Roger. Emperor tamarins are quite rare in zoos, officials said, with 28 now living in U.S. zoos.
“With the beginning of the Gophers football season kicking off [Thursday night], and the basketball season around the corner, we wanted to show support to our neighbors down the road and to their young coaches,” said Michelle Furrer, director of the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory. “Ski-U-Mah!”
Tamarins are petite, usually weighing about 1 pound when fully grown and 9 to 10½ inches long. Their tails are about 15 inches long. A long, white drooping mustache is their most distinctive feature.
The big-eyed twins haven’t grown mustaches just yet and currently weigh about 40 grams — no more than the size of a mini candy bar.
After birth, the father typically carries the babies on his back for the first six to seven weeks and does most of the caretaking, handing the infants to the mother for nursing. Tamarin siblings also help out and often carry the infants.