Dark and light green leaves

South American Exhibit

Green-Winged Macaw – Ara Chloropterus

Status: Least Concern
Green Winged Macaw Min

Habitat: Macaws are a group of long-tailed, large-beaked parrots native to Central and South America. Across that range, they live in several kinds of forested habitats, from dense tropical rainforest to dry, wooded savanna.

Adaptations: Macaws’ large, strong beaks are useful for feeding and climbing. Macaws travel together in loud screeching flocks.

Diet: Macaws eat seeds, nuts and fruits.

Fun Fact: Macaws are messy eaters, dropping large quantities of food as they eat. In the wild, this habit provides many ground-dwelling animals with fruit they would not otherwise be able to reach. Some of the foods macaws eat in the wild contain small amounts of toxins. To counter these poisons, macaws will eat clay, gathering in large numbers on cliff faces to obtain it. Green-winged macaws are the second-largest type of macaw.

Greater Rhea – Rhea Americana

Status: Near Threatened
Rhea Funny

Habitat: Greater rheas inhabit the grasslands and open woodlands of southeastern South America.

Adaptations: Rheas are members of the ratite family, the group of flightless birds that also includes the ostrich, emu, cassowary and kiwi. Though they cannot fly, they are excellent runners, possessing long, featherless legs and three toes. The birds speed away at the first sign of danger, using their wings as rudders when they change direction.

Diet: Rheas eat grasses, insects, roots, leaves, seeds and small vertebrates.

Fun Fact: A female rhea’s involvement with her eggs ends the moment they hit the ground. Several females will lay their eggs in a shared nest, which will then be incubated and guarded by the male. After the eggs hatch, the male cares for the young by himself.

Capybara – Hydrochoerus Hydrochaeris

Status: Least Concern

Habitat: Capybaras live in family groups or small herds of 20 or less near lakes and rivers in South and Central America. Capybaras rest in shallow depressions in the ground.

Adaptations: The world’s largest rodent, the capybara can stand over two feet tall at the shoulder and weigh in excess of 120 pounds. They are sometimes referred to as “water hogs,” both because of their pig-like appearance and because they spend considerable time in the water. They are crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk). They are graceful swimmers, having partially webbed feet, and can remain submerged for several minutes. A large amount of fatty tissue gives them neutral buoyancy in the water.

Diet: Capybaras may graze on land or feed on hyacinth and other aquatic plants in the water. Like other rodents, their teeth grow continuously and must be worn down by gnawing.

Fun Fact: The word capybara means “master of the grasses.” Centuries ago, capybaras were declared to be a fish by the Pope, which allowed the meat to be eaten during the Lenten season.