The fun begins at the top of the rainforest as you guide your own cotton-top tamarin all the way down to the bottom. Wind your way through each layer of the forest as you meet various species from eagles and snakes to otters and piranhas. And for the real experience, make sure to visit the Rainforest of the Americas exhibit soon. Only at the LA Zoo!
Cotton-top tamarins, one of the smallest primates, are only found in Colombia. They inhabit various parts of the Colombian rainforests, from dry or humid to deciduous forest. Weighing only about one pound, these small animals have a diet, mostly insects and fruit, that keep them highly energized. They have a uniquely bare face of black skin with a head of cotton-white hair.
The harpy eagle can be found throughout Central and South America, from Mexico to Argentina. Their distinctive feature is the disk of grey feathers that surrounds their face, similar to the mane of a lion. They have a six-and-a-half-foot wingspan and talons comparable in size to a bear. Harpy eagles live in monogamous pairs, and while similar in appearance, the female is about double the size of the male.
Southern black howler monkeys, the largest of the new world monkeys, are found high in the trees of central South American rainforests. They spend most of their day digesting their primarily folivorous diet of leaves, fruits, flowers and buds. An enlarged larynx and hyoid bone allows them to create loud, roaring sounds that help them delineate their territory. Their calls can be heard up to three miles away.
The emerald tree boa can be found in the rainforests of Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, and Brazil. They are emerald green in color with white, lightning-bolt-shaped stripes down their backs. The coloration is much different in juveniles. They are a dark orange-red with the same lightning bolt stripes and the addition of green spots. They feed primarily on small mammals and can grow up to six feet in length.
Keel-billed toucans occupy the canopies of the tropical rainforests of southern Mexico, Venezuela, and northern Colombia. Their colorful body includes a neck of banana yellow, a red tail, blue feet, and a beak of red, green and orange. Although their diet is mostly fruit, they will eat invertebrates, lizard, and bird eggs.
Nestled in the canopy of the vast rainforest of the Amazon is the uakari. The fur of this monkey, a glowing chestnut, covers the entire body except the head. The bald head and startlingly red face are unique to this species. Unlike other monkeys, the uakari has a short tail and uses their arms and legs to transport itself from tree to tree. Their incisor and canine teeth are specialized to feed on hard-shelled fruit.
Goliath birdeaters, one of the largest tarantulas, can be found in the swampy regions of South American rainforests. They grow up to have a leg span of about ten inches. These spiders are covered in brownish hair and have venomous one-inch-long fangs. Though the venom is non-lethal, a bite can be very painful. Untrue to their name, birdeaters eat insects, snakes, frogs, rats, and bats.
The Baird's tapir, also known as the Central American tapir, roams the forests and rainforests of Central America and the western side of the Andes mountains in northern South America. They can reach a height of about four feet and a length of five feet with a coat that is mostly dark brown. Baird's tapirs are nocturnal and use their dexterous snouts to forage and eat fruits, leaves, and twigs. All species of tapir are good swimmers and may submerge in a body of water and use their nose as a snorkeling device.
Swimming through slow-moving streams in the tropical lowland rainforests and wetlands of South America is the giant river otter. An adult can grow to be about six feet and is the largest of the otter species. Their webbed toes, long bodies and flattened tails help them swim through the water and get their food, which is primarily fish. These monogamous animals live in family groups.
Living up to its name, the red-bellied piranha is a shimmering gray-blue with a radiantly red underside. They live in freshwater rivers in the tropics throughout South America. Their sharp teeth make them a feared predator, feasting primarily on other fish, insects, and crustaceans. That being said, this particular species of piranha is considered to be one of the more aggressive species, occasionally attacking small animals that cross its path.
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