Flooded Forest

Cardinal tetra

Cardinal tetra, Paracheirodon axelrodi

This popular aquarium fish was unknown to science until 1956, when ichthyologists at the Smithsonian Institution and Stanford University published descriptions a day apart. It took a meeting of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature to determine the Smithsonian had published first. Found only in the Rio Negro and Orinoco Rivers, they are provided both through ecologically sustainable collecting in Brazil and fish farms in Asia and Europe.

Green anaconda

Green anaconda, Eunectes murinus

Exceeding 20 feet in length and 300 pounds in weight, this famous South American snake is by far the largest of the boas, and is the heaviest of the world’s snakes (the Reticulated python from Asia may grow slightly longer). Anacondas give birth to live young, usually 20 to 40 at a time. With their eyes near the top and end of their heads, they are adapted to an aquatic environment, and most of their prey is taken in or near water. At the DWA, they are fed rats. The largest specimen here is 14 feet long.

Plate-billed mountain toucan

Plate-billed mountain toucan, Andigena laminrostris

Not seen in collections until the 1960s, this strangely beautiful bird from the cool Andean forests of Colombia and Ecuador was kept by a number of places in the 1970s and ’80s, and several were hatched. Today it is rare in captivity, but the DWA has recently been repeatedly propagating it. Because its mountain habitat continues to disappear, it is considered Near Threatened.

Black-chinned emperor tamarin

Black-chinned emperor tamarin, Saguinus imperator imperator

Of the two subspecies of Emperor tamarins, this one, with a dark tail and no beard, is the less common in captivity. It is found in a small area of Brazil and Peru. Like other tamarins, the male takes care of the twins (the most common sort of birth), giving them to the female only to nurse. They usually stay with their family group (led by a dominant female) for around two years.

Yellow-headed Amazon parrot

Yellow-headed Amazon parrot, Amazona oratrix oratrix

This Mexican parrot has long been a popular pet, prized for its “talking” and “singing”. This led to trappers stealing young birds from nests wherever they could find them. In two decades, the population fell from 700,000, in the mid-1970s, to only 7,000! This decline continues, worsened by habitat destruction. However, this species breeds well in captivity, with many hatched each year. The breeding pair at the DWA have so far reared two broods of chicks in full public view.