Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The Rio Zoo or Jardim Zoológico is the oldest zoo in all of Brazil, and was established in 1888. Today, it hosts more than 70,000 visitors on average each month on its more than 30 acres. Situated amongst ponds, streams, and gardens in the Quinta de Boa Vista, the zoo sits behind the National Museum of Natural History which was once an Imperial Palace. The zoo is home to approximately 2000 animals of more than 350 species, many of them native to Brazil.
A few very rare native species that are rarely seen at zoos are featured at Rio Zoo, including a single red-backed bearded saki, a New World Monkey found only in Brazil and the Guianas. Another native New World Monkey not often seen in zoos found here is the furry Dusky titi monkey, of which the zoo has a pair. The zoo is also home to many species of tamarin, small monkeys that come in many colors and with varying trademarks. One of the most threatened of these little monkey is the Golden lion-maned tamarin, and the zoo in is focused on breeding and conservation of these arboreal primates, with small groups of them featured throughout the zoo. There are also moustached tamarins, pied tamarins, and black red-handed tamarins, all delightful to watch jump and swing about in their enclosures.
The yellow-throated capuchin is a rare subspecies related of the common brown capuchin, and it is a highly endangered species protected by the European Endangered Species Program. The Rio Zoo is responsible for establishing the breeding program of the yellow capuchins, and some of the offspring now resides in accredited zoos as far away as Chester Zoo in England and Zurich Zoo in Germany. The yellow-throated capuchins can be found swinging about in trees in an open air enclosure, entertaining guests with their acrobatics and athleticism.
Other primates a guest should be sure to visit are the chimpanzees and the orangutans, both living in meadow like enclosures surrounded by moats that separate them from the public. Both of the enclosures feature climbing structures for the animals to explore, and various toys and treats are made available for enrichment and entertainment for both the apes and their human viewers. One such item are blankets which the orangutans not only use as covers, but to hide under, to carry around while climbing, and to occasionally engage in a tug of war.
Another very unique experience is the viewing of a large, open, very natural looking enclosure from a bridge that crosses the expanse of the exhibit. From the bridge, guests can watch many species of animals roaming peacefully together, including deer, tapir, turtles and various birds. For bird lovers, this is an especially enjoyable zoo, as they house limitless, colorful native parrots, many of which are involved in captive breeding programs. There is also an open air aviary within which guests can meander while visiting with striking Toucans, Macaws and other species of parrot.
The zoo also features a Nocturnal House with many animals who are mostly active in the dark, including sloths and many types of bat. There are a number of large cats to visit, including a black leopard and its spotted counterpart, lions, and a pair of cougars. Spectacled bears, native to the Andean region of South America and related to the now extinct Florida spectacled bear, are featured and involved in a captive breeding program. The wild cousins of these bears are threatened in the wild, partially due to habitat loss, and partly because ranchers often wrongly assume they kill cattle and so they are shot on site. Through breeding success and education, it is hoped that these animals can be more protected an able to rebound from the human impacts on their population. There is also a brown bear at Rio Zoo, who often will be treated to an artificial snowfall for enrichment and to just keep cool!