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Zoo Diary: Rainforest South America

on 25th January, 2021
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Last week we took you on a virtual journey to Australia. Join us this week on a tropical adventure to the rainforests of South America. Imagine just for a moment that you are in the depths of the forest. All around you are lush canopies of trees and vines. It is hot and humid. The air is heavy and the sweat drips off your nose! There are flashes of red and blue as Macaws fly past. You hear the squeaks and calls of capuchins as they swing through the branches. You peer over the edge of a watering hole you catch a glimpse of two Tapirs wallowing to escape the heat. You are startled as you look up and are face to face with an Amazon tree boa, tightly coiled and camouflaged against the vegetation. The rainforest is alive with mammals feeding, insects buzzing and birds screeching.

When you visit the Lake District Wildlife Park, if you let your imagination run wild it is easy to take yourself off into the rainforest. On entering the Park, you are met by Muffin and Zico the two Brazilian Tapirs. If they are not roaming around their enclosure pulling down branches with their unusual snouts, they are most likely to be in the river. That amazing nose of theirs can also be used as a snorkel if they want to submerge and hide from predators. In the wild, Tapirs have a very important job to do, helping with the dispersal of seeds. They do this by eating fruits and berries and then as they move through the forest they defecate and spread the seeds. The Keepers who look after Muffin and Zico can confirm that Tapirs are indeed very good at distributing their poop! Our Keepers will also confirm that Muffin and Zico are very tame. Wild Tapirs tend to be shy and hide in amongst the trees. Our fun-loving pair however, like nothing more than a good tummy rub and an ear scratch from visitors.

The screeches of Max and Quaver the two Green Winged Macaws just cannot be ignored. First you hear them, then you see these two strikingly beautiful birds. Red, green and blue feathers that catch the sunlight. Green winged Macaws are predominantly red, and they are huge birds which can grow up to almost 1 metre in body length. Max and Quaver are a delightful pair to interact with. They are intelligent, inquisitive and interested in anyone who stops to talk to them. They like nothing more than a playful “tug-of-war” with toys, chasing each other around their enclosure or simply cracking nuts with their huge powerful beaks. In the rainforest they will stay together in pairs or in small flocks. They nest high up in the canopy to keep their offspring safe from predators. We are still unsure if Max and Quaver are a breeding pair. They have a fragrant old whiskey barrel as their nest-box, and they do seem quite fond of it!

Just around the corner you will be met by Elvis, Danielle, Prince, Mom and Spike the gregarious and very entertaining Brown Capuchins. Our Capuchins are cheeky and entertaining. If you pause for a moment, Elvis will come over and just check you out! He bobs his head from side to side and twitches his eyebrows up and down. Stay a moment longer and you might see the Capuchins swinging across the branches and then settling down for a body rub. But this is not the luxurious kind of body rub that you might be thinking of… Capuchins rub onions and chilli peppers into their fur and in the rainforest, the spicy perfume acts as an insect repellent!

This is just a small selection of rainforest wildlife found at the Lake District Wildlife Park. Our ethos has always been to inspire awe and wonder in the World around us. In the cold days of January take some time to let your mind wander to somewhere exotic. And as soon as we are open again if you need some help to imagine these places, do come and see us! In the meantime, visit our website to find out more of about the many different animals that we have.

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