Posts Tagged 'upland tropical rain forest'

Animal Update – February 7

national aquarium animal update

New Boat-Billed Herons in the Rain Forest! 

Two boat-billed herons, transported to Baltimore from the Buffalo Zoo, have been introduced into our Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit!

national aquarium boat-billed heron

Boat-billed herons are found in forested areas near water from Mexico to Argentina.  These stocky birds feed mostly on fish, invertebrates, and small amphibians.

Did you know? The large characteristic beak that gives the bird it’s name is used for both food gathering and for social signaling between other members of the species!

 Both of our herons are females, estimated to be about six-years-old. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at one of our herons getting a quick exam before going on exhibit:

national aquarium heron exam

Be sure to check back every Friday to find out what’s happening!

It’s a … SLOTH! Meet the Rain Forest’s Newest Addition!

We’re are excited to announce the birth of Scout, our newest Linne’s two-toed sloth!

national aquarium baby sloth announcement

The newest arrival to our Upland Tropical Rain Forest is the second baby born to Ivy, one of the five sloths in the exhibit. Scout is the fourth sloth born at the National Aquarium!

To celebrate the birth of Scout, we have set up a baby registry at aqua.org/babysloth. Here, fans of Scout can make a donation to help purchase such items as vegetables and fruit, micro-chipping and the baby’s monthly checkup – items that are essential to the care and survival of Scout!

“Our team is thrilled to welcome another baby sloth to our Rain Forest habitat,” said Ken Howell, Curator of the Upland Tropical Rain Forest. “It is an honor to work with these incredible animals and inspire our guests to learn more about the ways they can protect them.”

Sloths have been an ongoing part of the animal collection here at the Aquarium. The two oldest sloths currently living in the rain forest, Syd and Ivy, were acquired in May 2007. Howie and Xeno were born at National Aquarium in 2008 and 2010, respectively. And most recently, Camden, was born at National Aquarium in 2012.

national aquarium baby sloth scout

Linne’s two-toed sloths are commonly found in South America’s rain forests, where they spend almost their entire lives in the trees. They are nocturnal by nature, fairly active at night while spending most of the day sleeping. Adult sloths are typically the size of a small dog, approximately 24-30 inches in length and about 12–20 pounds in weight.

To give Ivy and her baby proper time to bond, our staff is closely observing mom and baby from a distance. This means we haven’t gathered the newborn’s weight and height measurements or been able to determine gender. Staff has estimated, based on records from other baby sloths its age, that Scout weighs approximately 450 grams and is approximately 30 cm long.

Stay tuned for more updates on baby Scout in the coming weeks! 

Happy International Sloth Day!

Today is the 4th annual International Sloth Day!

Created by the AIUNA Foundation, International Sloth Day aims to bring awareness to illegal trafficking and the mistreatment of sloths in Central and South America. AIUNA is a nonprofit located in Medellin, Colombia focused on the rehabilitation and release of sloths injured by power lines, hit by cars or sold illegally.

Here at the Aquarium, we have four Linne’s two-toed sloths that live in our Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit! With two claws on the front feet and three on the back, Linne’s two-toed sloths are designed for an arboreal life. They move through the tree branches and even mate and give birth while hanging upside down!

national aquarium baby sloth

Did you know? Sloth babies, like our newest addition Camden, will cling to their moms for their first year of life! During that time, their moms teach them all about being a sloth – from what to eat to how to navigate the tree tops!

Want to learn even more about these fascinating animals? Check out our infographic:

international sloth day infographic

How are YOU celebrating International Sloth Day? Tell us in the comments or join the conversation on Facebook!

Four Blue-Crowned Motmot Chicks Have Hatched in the Rain Forest

animal expert update

Our pair of blue-crowned motmots has produced four chicks! This is the second successful brood for the pair (who produced their first set of chicks in 2011).

blue crowned motmot chick
Blue-crowned motmots are neo-tropical birds known for their unusual nesting behaviors. Parent birds excavate long tunnels into the earth where they lay their eggs and raise their offspring.

Our resident pair of motmots are often seen working on a burrow within the rainforest exhibit. Earlier this summer, we were excited to learn that the pair was raising chicks in their most recent burrow! It is impossible for exhibit staff to see what is going on underground, so our team is left to interpret the behavior of both adults to infer what’s happening. When only one motmot is present during our morning bird inventory, we can assume that the adults are taking turns incubating their eggs. When we observe the adult birds carrying food into the tunnel, it’s likely that a chick has hatched!

blue crowned motmot chicks

This feeding pattern continues for about four weeks, with the amount of food being brought back escalating as the chicks grow. After the four week period, the baby motmots emerge from the tunnel fully feathered, able to fly and nearly the size of an adult!

Stay tuned for more updates on our chicks!

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The Life Cycle of Poison Dart Frogs Explained

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National Aquarium has had a long, successful history of breeding poison dart frogs. Here in the Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit, we have 16 species of poison dart frogs. Over the last few decades, scientists have become very interested in the reproductive strategies of these species and how they care for their young.

blue poison dart froglet

Dart frogs are incredibly intriguing animals. In addition to possessing toxins and bright colorations/patterns, they also have a fairly complex life cycle!

For most species, females will choose a leaf lying on the rain forest floor to deposit a mass of eggs, which the male will then fertilize. Males are oftentimes in charge of guarding the eggs while they develop.

poison dart frogs developing

Here at the Aquarium, most of our tadpoles develop behind-the-scenes in their own simulated bromeliad cup.

Once the tadpoles have developed, one parent will carry each tadpole to their very own pool of water held in a plant, known as a phytotelma. In the wild, some dart frog species (including many of the species we have in our collection) choose the water-filled cups at the base of bromeliads to safely store young.

Many tadpoles are omnivorous and most species will feed on algae and/or other small animal life (including other tadpoles). During their time in the bromeliads, the tadpoles will progressively metamorphose into full-fledged froglets!

The transition takes approximately two months, and they typically reach adult size and maturity within a year.

The normal life span for these animals in zoos and aquariums is about 10-15 years. Here at the Aquarium, we’ve had frogs live to be at least 23 years old!

ken howell rain forest expert national aquarium


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