Red-handed tamarin

Red-handed tamarin, Saguinus midas

Of the many kinds of small South American monkeys known as tamarins, most exhibit highly contrasting colors. This species is no exception. Most of its fur is dark, but its feet are bright orange. Another common name is Golden-handed tamarin, reflecting its scientific name, which commemorates King Midas and his mythical golden touch. This monkey is abundant in its Northeastern South American Range.

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Vampire bat

Vampire bat, Desmodus rotundus

It might seem surprising that Vampire bats have the fewest number of teeth of any bat — only 20, most of them tiny. However the incisors and canines, that dominate their jaws, are superbly suited to slice through skin, giving their owner access to the blood that is its sole food. Found from Northern Mexico to Chile, they prey on a wide variety of sleeping mammals and birds, including occasional humans (who are often attacked through their toes). They do well in captivity, and most zoo specimens are captive-bred. Their DWA diet is cow’s blood.

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Antillean manatee

Antillean manatee, Trichechus manatee

Distant relatives of elephants and hyraxes, West Indian manatees occur in two subspecies. The Antillean manatee of Central and South America, and various Caribbean islands, is almost identical to the Florida manatee (T. manatus laterostris), being slightly smaller with a narrower skull.

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Giant Otter

Giant Otter, Pteronura brasiliensis

While Sea otters can also weigh up to 100 pounds, Giant river otters are definitely the longest members of the weasel family, reaching five-and-a-half feet in length. Found in noisy groups of up to eight, related animals along rivers in tropical South America, they are active only during the day time. Although they have the shortest fur of any otter, their hides have been traditionally valued, and the fur trade has led to their being listed as an endangered species. Until recently, it was a very rare animal in zoos, but increasing numbers are being bred in captivity.

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Giant Anteater

Giant Anteater, Myrmecophaga tridactyla

This enormous relative of sloths and armadillos is found all the way from Honduras to Argentina, but has gone extinct in several parts of this range, and is considered vulnerable to extinction everywhere. More than 250 are maintained in more than 100 zoos around the world, where they breed frequently. True to its name, it rips apart the nests of ants and termites with its powerful claws, then gathers them into its toothless jaws with its long, muscular tongue. In zoos it is fed protein-rich diets prepared in blenders.

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