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Press Release


March 17, 2016

MADISON, WI – Today, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced the newest animals to join the Henry Vilas Zoo emperor tamarins Paulie and Nacho. Emperor tamarins are native to the rainforests of Brazil, Peru, and Bolivia. They eat mainly fruits, insects, and tree sap and grow to be up to 10.5 inches long and weigh less than a pound. Due to their fabulous ‘mustaches’, they were named after Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany.

“This is just another addition to our wonderful zoo,” said County Executive Parisi. “We are thrilled to welcome these emperor tamarins to the Henry Vilas Zoo family. The Dane County Henry Vilas Zoo is a world-class zoo and is free to the public. Come down this weekend and see Paulie and Nacho.”

This announcement comes after Dane County’s Henry Vilas Zoo’s highest attendance year ever with 937,675 visitors in 2015. This is more than a 20% increase from any other year on record due in part to the new exhibit the Arctic Passage.

Arctic Passage is the largest expansion in the Zoo’s 104-year history, covering more than 1.7 acres. It provides guests with beautiful new, naturalistic environments for polar bears, grizzly bears and harbor seals. These exhibits enable zoo guests to see the seals swim underwater, the polar bears sleep in their den and a grizzly bear catch a fish from a stream. The Arctic Passage also features special new education, conservation and sustainability features that continue the zoo’s leadership in these areas.

As part of Arctic Passage, the Zoo has its first-ever indoor restaurant called “Glacier Grille.” It provides guests with stunning views of the polar bear yard and revenue from the restaurant directly supports the zoo.

Henry Vilas Zoo is open every day from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM and is free to the public.