Visitors to Zoo Miami can embark on an enchanting journey through the forests of Central and South America in the Amazon & Beyond Exhibit. The 27 acre exhibit is filled with colorful amphibians, sneaky reptiles and fascinating creatures, divided into three exciting eco-regions. The scenery is set with dozens of unique, beautiful and interesting plants, trees and shrubs. Visitors will first enter through the Village Plaza, where rhythmic sounds and beautiful sights will lure them in to begin their journey in the Cloud Forest. Cloud forests are higher ground areas covered in moisture and mist. These “islands in the sky” are filled with several species that are not found anywhere else in the world. Feel the atmosphere of rich mystery while making your way through the Amazon & Beyond Cloud Forest, and keep your eyes and ears peeled for howler monkeys, snakes and jaguars. Make sure to also keep an eye out for some of the special trees found here, including a few edible fruits. When entering the Cloud Forest, you can find a Soursop tree, native to the Caribbean with fruit that is often used to make delicious drinks and ice cream. Several of the trees also add a splash of color, like the Yellow Cordia and its gorgeous golden flowers or the Popcorn Cassia and its pale yellow and pink petals. Among the several plants here, you will also see a few that you may recognize, like avocado trees, black olive trees, or the bougainvillea. As you travel through these trees, unravel the mysteries of the Cloud Forest with the interactive displays and fascinating exhibits.
Next up on the journey is the Amazon Forest. The Amazon Basin Rivers are the largest areas of flooded forests in the world because they overflow their banks every year. As the largest continuous remaining rainforest ecosystem, this “land of the giants” is home to the massive anaconda, powerful harpy eagles and the great Orinoco crocodiles. These creatures can all be found in the Amazon & Beyond Amazon Forest, along with several species of fish, birds and amphibians. This special forest also features a few “giant” trees, such as The Cannonball Tree, which serves as a shady canopy in tropical rain forests, and the Peach Palm, which can grow up to 59’ tall. Beautiful shrubs like the Palm Beach Purple and the ‘Barbara Karst’ stand out with their vibrantly colorful flowers. As you stroll through the Amazon, try to take in the beauty of the foliage, mixed with the energetic sounds.
The last forest is made up of two separate but similar ecosystems, the Mata Atlantica and the Pantanal, to create the Atlantic Forest. Mata Atlantica is comprised of tropical and subtropical Atlantic coastal forests. The Pantanal is the largest freshwater wetland in the world. Here, at the Amazon and Beyond Atlantic Forest, you can encounter fascinating creatures like the giant anteater and the spunky giant river otter. This captivating forest is shaded by many large and leafy palm trees like the Brazil Silver Palm and the Pati Palm. More unusual trees can also be found within the Atlantic Forest, some that even seem to have taken inspiration from animals. Look out for the Zebra Plant, a dark green shrub identified by its contrasting “zebra” striped leaves. Try to spot the Rattlesnake Plant, with its yellow or orange spirally arranged flowers that resemble a rattlesnake’s rattles. Leave the Amazon & Beyond forests feeling moved and enriched, as you take with you lessons of life’s complexity and wonder.