Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo




Discus fish

The Amazon River stretches more than 4,000 miles. The tropical rainforest of its watershed is home to millions of species of plants and animals, making it the planet's most diverse ecosystem.

The Zoo is home to an Amazonia Exhibit where visitors can get a glimpse into the rich and vibrant underwater life of the Amazon. When the large, serpent-like arapaima swims by, you will get a close-up look at one of the largest freshwater fish in the world reaching up to ten feet in length and weighing 300 pounds. Red-tailed catfish, black pacus, and other fish share this 27,000-gallon aquarium below a living tropical forest.

Elsewhere at the Zoo visitors can view other animals from Amazonia, as well as many animals from other parts of South America.

Amazonia Exhibit

Blue poison arrow frogs at the Smithsonian's National Zoo

The Zoo's Amazonia Exhibit leads visitors into the realm of the Amazon River Basin, where giant arapaima, pacu, red-tailed catfish, and piranhas swim in shallow water, and poison arrow frogs, titi monkeys, and tanagers inhabit the world above. Living kapok, avocado, and cocoa trees spread their roots in this enclosed tropical habitat. →Take an audio tour of the exhibit.

Adjacent to the exhibit, the Amazonia Science Gallery offers a glimpse into the scientific research Zoo staff conduct in the lab and in the field.

Tropical Wildlife at the Zoo

    Golden Lion Tamarin
  • Elsewhere in the Zoo are golden lion tamarins, native to Brazilian tropical forest, which have been saved from extinction by Zoo conservationists. Golden Lion Tamarin Program

  • Leaf-cutter ants and Cuban crocodiles hail from tropical and subtropical forests in the Americas. And, many of our familiar North American breeding birds spend the winter in these forests. Migratory Bird Center

Beyond Amazonia

  • Tropical forest also covers parts of Central and West Africa, home to western lowland gorillas and pygmy hippos, and the site of a major biodiversity study in Gabon, and Madagascar, home to lemurs.

  • In Asia, elephants, tigers, clouded leopards, orangutans, gibbons, Eld's deer, gharial, and many other Zoo species live in tropical forests. Asia Trail

  • Sometimes people are surprised to learn that rainforest does not blanket all of South America. Large expanses of this continent are grasslands, home to maned wolves and seriemas, among other species found at the Zoo.