One of the highlights of our five day trip to the Amazon, was taking a day to see the local zoo. It is located up by the airport, so a good half hour from the city’s center where we were staying. Basically the only vehicles in Iquitos are motorcycles and mototaxis (since it’s not reachable by road), so we grabbed two mototaxis for the six of us, and headed out.
Cliff was elated every time we got a chance to hop in one of these peculiar pieces of machinery. He really wanted to drive one and kept asking, all week. It was a perfect day for the zoo.
It had rained a lot that week, but the day we showed up was nice and sunny and fairly warm, though it was pretty muddy!
Before we even saw the macaws we could hear them shouting, “hola, hola!” They were very talkative as we approached, but quieted down as soon as we got close. Cliff wasn’t sure what to think about a bird that could talk…
Monkeys and Paiche, the huge Amazonian fish, were in the next exhibit.
While the monkeys were neat, what really captured our attention was trying to spot the enormous pink and green-tinted fish below the waters’ surface.
Some of them were six-feet long! They were pretty active and kept splashing at the surface.
After that we saw the jaguars. I’m always amazed at the lack of “security” in the zoos we visit in Latin America. No where in the states would you have a jaguar in a chain link fence, separated only by a log “fence”.
It always makes me a bit nervous with the kids!
It is neat to get to see the animals at such a close range, though.
We saw many more jungle mammals.
As usual, I was not positive what animals we did see since the signs were in Spanish. Often there’s not a direct translation for animal names. We know we saw the giant otter though, which was really cool!
He even jumped in the small outlying pond and grabbed a fish to snack on while we watched him.
The pink dolphin was a big draw for us in coming to the zoo.
Olivia loves all things pink, as many 3 year old little girls do, I’m sure. We had promised Olivia she would get to see pink dolphins, and we weren’t about to let this once in a lifetime chance escape us! Here was an animal that actually came in her favorite color (we’ve had many discussions about the fact that pink cats and pink horses don’t exist in real life). We were hoping to catch the dolphin show, but were a few hours early for it. The dolphin was kind enough to do a few tricks for us, though.
At the zoo there is also a beach, which we had originally hoped to enjoy, but like most of the rest of Iquitos, it was flooded with the seasonal rains. Not only was there no beach, but the restaurants were flooded as well.
Don’t worry. This is apparently very normal for Iquitos. We also saw the huge Capybara while we were there. For some reason Olivia and Cliff thought they were scary; I thought they were pretty cute.
After the zoo we grabbed lunch outside at one of the local eateries setup. They were grilling paiche and trout and also had plantain balls and fresh young coconuts for coconut water. It was so refreshing in the heat!
On the way back, we stopped in at the Manatee Rescue Center for a quick tour. It was a really beautiful setup, with lots of wildlife. Olivia adopted a caterpillar and would not let it go the whole time.
There was also a really sweet little monkey who followed us for a while. The kids didn’t like him too much, but we had some fun with him.
I was really fascinated to find out how important manatees are to the river’s eco-system. They eat around 50 kilos a day in vegetation!
Which means, if they are hunted out of the rivers, they will start to overgrow with aquatic lettuce and other plants that the manatees would normally be consuming. The manatees we got to feed were “baby” manatees, but were all between 1-2 years old.
They don’t reach adulthood until 2 years. They were pretty big! And happily chowed down on the aquatic lettuce we fed them.
It was a really cool experience!