Shedd Aquarium welcomes green anaconda to Amazon exhibit

Shedd Aquarium’s “Amazon Rising” exhibit offers a glimpse of the many animal and plant species native to the distant rainforest, including the emerald tree boa, white-faced whistling duck, dwarf caiman, and wattled jacana.

And now, the exhibit has welcomed a new sliding creature, one of the largest snakes in the world – a green anaconda.

According to “Amazon Rising” manager Michael Yuratovac, the female snake, believed to be around 5 years old, was donated by a member of the Chicago Herpetological Society when the anaconda was “in need”.

“I think she’s beautiful. She’s a huge snake. She’s 10ft 7in right now and she can be up to 20ft. So that’s impressive – people don’t usually see a snake of that size.” Get it, ”said Yuratovac.

The new anaconda attracted many curious visitors, including several children, who found themselves leaning against the glass that had separated them from the snake, staring in amazement as it slid across the water and many branches was.

Nathan Gonzalez, 16, visited Shedd Aquarium on Tuesday and was particularly excited to see the anaconda, which he learned about in school: “It’s amazing to see animals I’ve never seen before, especially Anaconda.”

The native habitat of the snake is in South America and this species is known for its predatory appearance. As a constrictor, the anaconda can detach its jaws to swallow larger prey, its slime-like coloration helping it to mix in shallow water and greenery. The animals are thought to be able to live in and out of water, and are unique for having their eyes and nose on the top of their heads, which help them see and smell while swimming.

As Shed’s new snake is getting used to its new environment, aquarium workers are working to make the anaconda less sensitive and amenable to touch. Yuratovac said the process involves touching her back for a moment or two and hopes she doesn’t respond. By making the anaconda insensitive to touch, Yuratovac and its staff can ensure that it does not put herself or staff in harm’s way during feeding or vet procedures.

“We have to be very careful that we’re not passing in front of her when she’s in the water because she looks like she’s just sitting there and then one second she might attack you because she thinks you’re food.” , ” They said. “We are very cautious and we are trying to feed him in a way where … he will know that the food only comes from one place.”

Many aquarium-goers who see the anaconda were surprised by its size and reflected on the wider concerns for important ecosystems around the world.

A news release from the aquarium said humans are the biggest threat to snakes because they hunt animals for their skin or out of fear.

Indiana resident Tara Debish was visiting the shed with her kids as part of a family trip to Chicago. She noted that her son was “absolutely amazed” by the big green anaconda.

“It opens my eyes to the kind of impact we have on these animals and how we need to work to protect them,” she said.

Daniyah Ahmed, another mother who moved with her family from Houston to Chicago, said her children were “excited” to learn about the different aquatic species and ecosystems.

“You have a better, greater sense of seeing how many animals can be affected by what we’re doing, so this exhibit is great because you probably think of fish in a small range, but When you come here you see a lot of species so it gives you a broad view,” she said.

dgill@chicagotribune.com

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