Now open: the Joburg Zoo's Animals of the Amazon exhibit
The Joburg Zoo's Animals of the Amazon exhibit is a rare chance for visitors to see many endangered species from the South and Central Americas.
COLOURFUL and captivating animals from the Amazon Basin made their debut appearance at the Joburg Zoo in the brand-new Animals of the Amazon exhibit on Thursday, 24 April.
The animals include the gigantic yellow anaconda, Amazon tree boa constrictors, Honduran milk snakes, curly-hair tarantulas, Costa Rican tiger rump spiders, green iguana, Seba-short tailed bats, freshwater fish, and primates from central and South America.
The Amazon Basin, covering areas in Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador, is home to a number of these species.
The Animals of the Amazon exhibit
The Animals of the Amazon Exhibit is housed in a two-storey building built to resemble an ancient Mayan temple; the enclosures include a dome-shaped freshwater aquarium with a walk-through tunnel.
The Mayans were keen scientists and their descendants still live in the Amazon Basin area today. To evoke the ethos of the Mayans's art and architecture, the enclosures have been decorated with crafted rocks and trees indigenous to the Amazon Basin. Walking through the exhibit is sure to have visitors imagining they're exploring the Basin itself.
At the Animals of the Amazon launch
Speaking at the launch, Chris Vondo, member of the mayoral committee for community development, said the exhibits would provide students at tertiary institutions and from schools in impoverished areas the opportunity to see the animals, many of which are endangered due to threats from climate change and their natural habitats being destroyed.
"We hope this experience will inspire them to go out and explore this wonderful world we live in," said Vondo.
He also added that the exhibits will allow local veterinarians to study the species; "Many of the species seen here at the centre are rarely ever seen in the wild. These animals are being threatened by climate change, irresponsible farming and by logging of their natural habitat for commercialisation," he noted.
Brenda Madumise, Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo chairperson, said the exhibition is an opportunity for South Africans and other visitors form the African continent to view species from another continent; "We hope that our attempts to bring the wildlife to people will influence people's attitude and behaviour towards wildlife and the environment, as well as enhance their understanding of the relationship between species and the environment," she said.
Madumise added that Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo would continue to make meaningful contributions towards conserving species.
Bulumko Nelana, managing director at Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo, said the exhibit would help raise awareness around the dangers the animals of the Amazon face. Nelana concluded by saying, "The exhibition is quite a unique experience that will place Joburg on the eco-tourism map."
Visitors to the Zoo can drop by the Animals of the Amazon exhibit every day between 9am and 3pm.