south america by way of h-town

Houston Zoo goes wild with exotic new South American experience

Houston Zoo goes wild with exotic new South American experience

Houston Zoo Pantanal Tesoro jaguar
Meet Tesoro, the handsome jaguar at the new zoo pantanal.  Photo by Jacklin Reyna

With Brazil a leader in COVID-19 cases, travel to the South American country isn’t exactly ideal. Fortunately, Houstonians can take a vivid trip south thanks to a lush new exhibit at the Houston Zoo.

Houston’s favorite wildlife hub has announced the new South America’s Pantanal, a 4.2-acre multi-species environment that will open to the public on October 10.

The new pantanal will allow guests to explore the tropical wetlands of Brazil and also visit giant river otters, jaguars, capybaras, giant river otters, dart frogs, howler monkeys, anaconda, and macaws, according to a press release. (In South America  — Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia — the Pantanal region is a mix of forest, rivers, marshes, and grassland).

One of the main attractions will be the giant river otter environment, which, with more than 100 feet of four-inch-thick, crystal-clear acrylic panels, will bring guests nose-to-nose with the playful mammal above and below water.

Another ooooh-and-ahhhh draw will no doubt be the green anaconda — the heaviest snake in the world — which will stealthily lie in wait in the forest canopy. And for a little run, guests can catch the small, bright-orange golden lion tamarins. The boisterous monkeys weigh less than a pound each and use roughly 40 different screams and chirps to communicate what is happening around them — which should make for quite the cacophony. 

Also on the bill are rare South American birds: blue-throated macaws and blue-billed curassows. And a jaguar — largest cat species in the Americas — named Tesoro will keep watch from a sculpted new environment.

The Houston Zoo partners with four wildlife conservation organizations: Lowland Tapir Conservation, Projeto Tatu-Canastra (Giant Armadillo Project), Bandeira Rodovias (Anteaters and Highways), and Projeto Ariranha (Giant Otter Project) to bring this experience to the city.

Tickets to the zoo can be reserved and purchased online