South American Wildlife: Animals You Cannot Miss

Spectacled Bear in South America

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Mention South America wildlife and people think immediately of the brightly plumaged birds such as this Scarlet macaw found in Suriname. They might remember the Andean llamas, the turtles, marine iguanas, and others in the Galapagos, the penguins of the Patagonia regions, or any of the thousands of exotic species found in this spectacular continent.


One of the attractions of the Amazon is the river dolphins known as botos or pink dolphins. Though there are other species of dolphins living in South American rivers, this is the only one living entirely in freshwater. The only other place a freshwater dolphin can be found is in Asia.

Marine dolphins living in seawater are found in coastal waters and estuaries from Colombia to Brazil; the Amazon River and rivers of northwestern South America.

The Franciscana or La Plata River dolphin lives in the estuary of the La Plata River and coastal waters of Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina. A smaller dolphin in the Amazon the tucuxi seems to have both a river and a marine form. All these dolphins are in danger of man-made dams pollution and fishing.


The Carades enyo is only one of a multitude of butterflies you'll thrill to walk among the butterflies of Venezuela.

Spectacled Bears

Spectacled Bears are the only ones found in South America where it is the largest carnivore and the second largest land mammal next to the tapir. This is a rare and endangered species. Its range extends along the slopes of the Andes mountains in Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. Small pockets of a few spectacled bears may also live in southern Panama and northern Argentina on the respective northern and southern limits of the Andean mountain range.

Its preferred habitat is the moist tropical forest which exists between the desert scrub present at lower elevations and the alpine meadows at the higher elevations within the Andes. The shaggy fur coat of the spectacled bear is black.

However, they have distinctive white or light tawny markings around the eyes which have been said to make these bears look like they are wearing glasses. The white or tawny patterning is unique for each animal and can often extend down onto the chest.


Ddendryphantines Gastromicans are the neotropical genus of Jumping Spiders of Ecuador.

The Mountain Tapir or woolly mountain tapir Tapirus pinchaque still survive in the high Andes of Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. They are already extinct in parts of their former range due to agriculture poaching and habitat destruction. Intense efforts are being made to save this species vital to the well-being of the Andean ecosystem.


Also in Ecuador, you can go whale watching along the coast of Puerto Lopez. Humpback whales are particularly well known for their habit of leaping out of the water and crashing back in with a huge splash.

Puerto Lopez is also the best place outside the Galapagos to see the blue-footed booby.


There are two species of two-toed sloth in South America in Ecuador and Brazil. There are three species of the three-toed sloth in coastal Ecuador, through Colombia and Venezuela, continuing through the forested areas of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, through-out Brazil, and extending to the northern portion of Argentina. 

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