South American Tropical Rainforest and Aviary Exhibit Opens at San Francisco Zoo

Approximately 100 South American animals will now call the San Francisco Zoo home when it opens its latest exhibit on Saturday.

The newly renovated South American Tropical Rainforest and Aviary will feature a realistic rainforest ecosystem that is meant to highlight the damaging effects caused by deforestation, according to zoo officials.

Animals that will be housed inside the aviary include free flying birds like the keel-billed toucan, the blue-headed macaw and the Cuban amazon. A stiff-tailed ruddy duck, a two-toed sloth as well as an abundance of exotic plants and trees will also be on display.

Additionally, the exhibit will include the zoo's first significant herpetological collection, which will include a 15-foot long green anaconda, a spiny-tailed iguana, a smoky jungle fog, a South American green snake, and an emerald tree boa, among other rare amphibians.

During opening week, the zoo has decided to provide limited hours in order to allow the animals to acclimate to their new environment.

Zoo spokesman Danny Latham said the goal of the exhibit is to show people the challenges animals in the wildlife face, such as deforestation and illegal pet trade.

"This experience is really a way to connect Bay Area residents to rare and unusual animals from the rainforest," Latham said.

The zoo began construction to renovate the exhibit's building nine months ago. The renovation cost around $6 million, according to zoo officials. For the renovation, zoo officials decided to preserve the building's original 1938 art deco architecture while revamping the inside to provide a state-of-the-art space for the exotic animals.

The building was formerly an aquatic birdhouse and was designed by noted architect Lewis Hobart.

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