Posts Tagged 'upland tropical rain forest'



Animal Update – July 13

Between our Baltimore and Washington, DC, venues, more than 17,500 animals representing 900 species call the National Aquarium home. There are constant changes, additions, and more going on behind the scenes that our guests may not notice during their visit. We want to share these fun updates with our community so we’re bringing them to you in our weekly Animal Update posts!

Check our blog every Friday to find out what’s going on… here’s what’s new this week!

Turquoise Tanager Chicks

We have two new turquoise tanager chicks in our Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit. This is the first time these birds have hatched eggs with us!

Turquoise tanager chicks

Turquoise tanagers are found in humid tropical forests throughout northern and central South America, as well as in Trinidad. Our exhibit houses two males and one female. Our turquoise tanagers began building a nest in one of the exhibit Cecropia trees in April 2012. Because the nest was high up in the tree, we were unable to confirm the number of eggs in the nest, but knew the female was sitting on at least one. After a short time, we were able to visually confirm that two chicks had hatched.

It is known that all adults within a turquoise tanager flock assist in feeding the nestlings and we were able to observe all three of our adults attending to the chicks.

Recently, we noticed the young birds’ growth and interest in leaving the nest. We covered both pools near the waterfall with netting to prevent their first tumble from the nest resulting in an accident. Once out of the nest and on the ground, we were able to transfer them to the corner cage where the adults continued to care for them. Our DNA tests have told us that one chick is a male and one is a female.

Turquoise tanagers

Both chicks are on exhibit (and still soliciting food from the adults) and we are very happy to announce that our turquoise tanager flock has grown from three to five!


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

Animal Update – April 20

Between our Baltimore and Washington, DC, venues, more than 17,500 animals representing 900 species call the National Aquarium home. There are constant changes, additions, and more going on behind the scenes that our guests may not notice during their visit. We want to share these fun updates with our community so we’re bringing them to you in our weekly Animal Update posts!

Check our WATERlog blog every Friday to find out what’s going on… here’s what’s new this week!

Poison Dart Froglets
Epipedobates tricolor

The tricolor, or phantasmal, poison dart frog (Epipedobates tricolor) is a small red or brown poison dart frog with blue stripes that is found in the rain forests of the Andean slopes of Ecuador. At the National Aquarium, we have a population of these frogs in the Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit, as well as in one of the Hidden Life exhibits at the end of the Rain Forest. These frogs reproduce year-round, but there’s currently a baby boom happening!

There are six froglets in this photo - can you spot them all?

Juveniles can be tiny enough to fit on the fingernail of your pinky!

This young froglet is about the size of a dime!

As they grow, their blue stripes will fade into view, but as froglets they are mostly a solid brown color so they can hide among the leaf litter.

You can tell the two froglets in this picture are older because their stripes are fairly well defined (though not yet completely bright in color).

Stop by to see the young froglets in the Hidden Life exhibit, closest to the rotating door headed toward our Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit!

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

Animal Update – April 6

Between our Baltimore and Washington, DC, venues, more than 17,500 animals representing 900 species call the National Aquarium home. There are constant changes, additions, and more going on behind the scenes that our guests may not notice during their visit. We want to share these fun updates with our community so we’re bringing them to you in our weekly Animal Update posts!

Check our WATERlog blog every Friday to find out what’s going on… here’s what’s new this week!

New Sunbittern  
A beautiful female Sunbittern was recently released into our Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit.

This slim, solitary bird has a blackish, slate-colored head with two white stripes on either side of the face. Its body is mottled, brown with black, and it has some white marks. A long, pointed black and orange bill and red eyes are distinctive.

Note from the caretaker: “Keep an eye out for these birds, and you may be lucky enough to see an amazing transformation. When they are disturbed or threatened, they spread their wings and exhibit very large eyespots—black, yellow, and chestnut. They seem to be saying, ‘See how big I am. You can’t hurt me.'”

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

Animal Updates – March 30

Between our Baltimore and Washington, DC, venues, more than 17,500 animals representing 900 species call the National Aquarium home. There are constant changes, additions, and more going on behind the scenes that our guests may not notice during their visit. We want to share these fun updates with our community so we’re bringing them to you in our weekly Animal Update posts!

Check our WATERlog blog every Friday to find out what’s going on… here’s what’s new this week!

Reef Scorpionfish 
We’ve added three Reef Scorpionfish to our Caribbean Camouflage exhibit.

Most scorpion fishes live on or near the bottom. They lie in crevices, in caves and under overhangs. This type of scorpionfish can change its color to better match its surroundings. For example, if it’s near sand, it will camouflage to look like sand while if it’s near red rocks, it will change its coloration to match the rocks. Thus he can blend in with its surroundings and go unnoticed by its prey.

Spring Blooms 
Our Cochliostema odoratissimum is currently in bloom in our Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit.

This large herbaceous plant is a tank-epiphyte, meaning the leaves form pockets at their bases to collect and store water. The leaves later absorb the water through small leaf hairs called trichromes. This characteristic gives this plant a very bromeliad-like appearance, making this species sometimes called false bromeliad; however, because this plant is rare in cultivation it has no scientifically recognized common name.

The leaves of the plant can grow in-excess of 1 meter in length and grow in a rosette, meaning its stem does not elongate and is comprised of overlapping leaf bases. The flowers erupt from clusters that form on the top of stalks, originating from the base of the leaf whorls. These clusters each produce a couple dozen flowers and must be hand pollinated in cultivation in order to produce fruit. The flowers have a deep blue to purple coloration and are highly fragrant.

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

Monkeying around in Baltimore’s Rain Forest

Golden lion tamarins are small, orange monkeys that are found only in southeastern Brazil’s Atlantic coastal forest. Heavy development has reduced their habitat so severely that only 2% of this forest remains, and there are only about 1,500 golden lion tamarins left in the wild.

An additional 500 golden lion tamarins live in zoos worldwide, as part of the Golden Lion Tamarin Conservation Project. The goal of this species survival program is to maintain a healthy, genetically diverse population of this endangered species. Without the Golden Lion Tamarin Conservation Project, comprised of the Brazilian government, the National Aquarium and other zoos and organizations, inbreeding would soon lead to the extinction of the entire species.

The Aquarium recently welcomed two of these golden lion tamarins, named Belle and Davi, to our Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit.

Belle and Davi

Belle and Davi in the Aquarium's Rain Forest

Belle was born at the Denver Zoo in March 2008, and Davi was born at the Bergen County Zoo in New Jersey in March 2007. They arrived at the Aquarium this winter, and were gradually introduced to each other and their new home.

They initially spent time in a backup area with a divider separating them, so they could see each other but had their own spaces. Aquarium staff kept a close watch on the shy monkeys via a video camera, and our vets gave them thorough medical exams.

Eventually, they were allowed to be together with supervision, and it turned out that Belle and Davi get along beautifully!

After the quarantine period, the tamarins were moved to a “howdy cage” in the Rain Forest. The howdy cage helps them get familiarized with the new environment, while allowing them to feel safe and secure in their own space.

Howdy Cage

The howdy cage

They are now able to leave the howdy cage and roam about the Rain Forest, but they consider the howdy cage their home and sleep there at night. There is always a volunteer or staff member supervising them when they are out and about. After all, monkeys have been known to get into mischief!

Rain Forest staff members provide a variety of enrichment items for the tamarins—puzzles like holey boxes or tubes with tasty fruit or insects inside. We change the enrichment items every day, because they are so good at figuring them out!

If you’re lucky enough to spot one of these cute creatures in the Rain Forest, the easiest way to identify the monkey is by the tail: Davi has a long tail, but Belle’s is very short. Davi is also a darker shade of orange, while Belle is blonder, and Belle is the more outgoing one, while Davi is quite timid.

Belle and Davi

Belle and Davi in their nest box

To come see Belle and Davi, buy your tickets online at aqua.org!

Raising Xeno

Last spring, one of our adult female sloths, Rose, unexpectedly passed away, leaving her 8-week-old baby orphaned. We were all saddened by the loss of Rose, and very worried that baby Xeno had lost his mother.

At the Aquarium, we typically respect the natural process of life by letting mothers care for their babies as much as possible. Because young sloths remain dependent on their mothers for food and comfort during their first year of life, our animal care staff knew that Xeno was going to need extra special care in order to grow into a successful adult sloth.

For the past several months, the Rain Forest staff and Animal Care team have come together to give little Xeno the best chance of survival, which meant round-the-clock care that included a special diet, daily veterinary checkups and even some coddling, because baby sloths physically cling to their mothers.

Words alone can’t describe how much love and care was put into helping Xeno grow! The video below shares our amazing story of raising Xeno:

Xeno is now 7 months old and is continuing to develop into a strong and healthy sloth. Our staff is no longer handling Xeno. He is currently living in a new enclosure in the Aquarium’s Rain Forest that will help introduce him to the environment. We are cautiously optimistic that he will soon join our other two-toed sloths as a permanent resident in our Upland Tropical Rain Forest!

The costs of food, medicine and a knowledgeable staff to care for more than 16,000 animals add up quickly. You can help us continue to provide the best-quality care for animals like Xeno. » Donate now

An unusual sloth sighting

Every morning the Aquarium’s Rainforest staff takes inventory of the animals since most of them have a free range of the habitat each day. It is often a challenge to locate all three of the Rainforest sloths since they hide in the trees. On one particular morning they were conspiring  together on the back wall, which is a very rare sight!

Clockwise they are;  Deb (Aquarium staff), Syd, Ivy, and Howie. Hmm, what were those sloths up to? 

Sloth social behaviors are poorly understood and observations of this sort assist us in developing a greater understanding of sloth biology. We know that they are generally considered solitary animals, but some species of sloths have been seen occupying the same desirable trees and sleep spots in the wild. Often our Rainforest sloths can be seen alone or near just one other, so this sighting was a very interesting observation.

So, why were they? It may be that all three sloths were getting too warm in the treetops and retreated to cooler air.  It is a possibility that it was simply coincidental, and after their nightly dinner exhibit rounds they ended up together by daybreak. It may even mean that the sloths were engaging in another hoped for reproductive event!

Look for Howie’s large and very sharp ‘canine-like’ premolars.  Sloths were at one time called Edentates, or toothless mammals.  Today they are correctly referred to as Xenarthrans (which is why our baby sloth has been named Xeno), a taxonomic group that also includes armadillos and anteaters.  If you look at Ivy’s feet you will notice that the hind foot has three toes/claws and the front foot has two toes/claws.  Two toed sloths are sometimes referred to as two-fingered sloths for this reason.


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