Oregon Zoo investigates deaths of 6 monkeys

Six tamarin monkeys, similar to the one picture here, died suddenly two days after arriving at the Oregon Zoo from Boston. (KOIN 6)
Six tamarin monkeys, similar to the one picture here, died suddenly two days after arriving at the Oregon Zoo from Boston. (KOIN 6)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — The Oregon Zoo launched an investigation to find out how six monkeys died in quarantine just days after arriving.

Nine cotton top tamarin monkeys arrived in Portland from Boston – from Harvard University – Saturday, May 24, but just two days later, six were dead. Of the three survivors, one was a 5-week old baby.

“I’ve never seen this kind of situation before,” said Oregon Zoo veterinarian Tim Storms. “It’s shocking to me, personally.”

“We’re shocked through all the processes trying to figure out options,” he said.

Storms said stress from the trip “is one of many possible causes among the things we’re considering.”

Zoo leaders said with necropsy results inconclusive, tissue samples from the six monkeys were then sent to a pathologist who they hope will have some answers in the coming weeks.

Tamarin monkeys, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, are “any of numerous small chiefly South American monkeys (genera Saguinus and Leontopithecus) that are related to the marmosets and have silky fur, a long tail, and lower canine teeth that are longer than the incisors.”

These monkey deaths follow the death of a 20-year-old orangutan in January. Three weeks ago, Oregon Zoo Director Kim Smith and senior veterinarian Mitch Finnegan were fired over that incident.

A report found lapses in protocol were not reported adequately.

“It makes you concerned about all the animals, but I am sure the zoo is doing its own investigation,” said zoo visitor Diane Cervi.

KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story. KOIN 6 News reporters Carla Castano and Joel Iwanaga contributed to this report.

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