weitere BilderVideo

South America Compound

Typical animal species from that part of the world live in the South America Compound. The vicugnas from the high mountains of the Andes for instance are members of the small camel family and have the finest and most costly wool in the animal world. This was very nearly their downfall, for when the Europeans came to South America they hunted the vicugnas until they were high on extinct. This is why the vicugnas belong to the first species of animals that have been kept under close supervision in a zoo breeding programme and bred systematically.

The alpaca is a domestic form of small camel, and was already bred by the Incas for the production of wool. Wilhelma has a small herd of alpacas, which alternates in size between 10 and 20 animals. They live in a large open-air enclosure together with two further species of animal: nandus or rheas and maras or Patagonian cavies.

Nandus are running birds and look like the African ostrich. But they probably developed independently and are not phylogenetically related to that animal. Maras look rather like hares and are rodents. With their long thin legs they can easily peep over the steppe grass.

In one of the other enclosures there are the collared peccaries, which are rather like pigs. They have a gland on the lower part of their back, just above the anus. The secretion from this gland emits a strong odour, with which the animals also rub each other, thereby "spreading their mark".

Another special animal is the anteater. These animals regularly have young ones at Wilhelma. Their special brand-mark is the toothless, tubular snout, in which is a very long tongue. With this tongue they fish for ants and termites in holes and cavities. They live in Central and South America.

By the way: the maned wolves and spectacled bears from the enclosure opposite, which belongs to the Compound for Bears and Mountain Animals, also come from South America. Thus there is a thematic link between both compounds.