Central and South American wildlife

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Central and South American wildlife

The Neotropic realm consists of South America together with Central America, the Caribbean and southern Florida. The realm consists all different climate zones; tropical forests, the highlands of the Andes, and the South American plains, extending to Antarctica.

Major wildlife regions
North AmericaCentral & South AmericaAfricaMadagascarEurasiaSouth & Southeast AsiaAustralasiaArcticSouthern Ocean



Many visitors come to the region to see rainforest. On guided rainforest hikes in places like Costa Rica or Manaus, Brazil, you can spot a fascinating variety of jungle plants and animals.

The isolated Galápagos Islands (part of Ecuador) are famous for their unique wildlife, observations of which helped Darwin discover evolution. See Galapagos wildlife for more.


The Neotropical region

While the llama (Lama glama) is the domestic form of the guanaco, the alpaca (Vicugna pacos) is the domestic form of the Vicuña (Vicugna vicugna). These are closely related to camels, and were the only large livestock animals in pre-Columbian America.

The jaguar (Panthera onca) is the largest big cat in the Americas and is the third largest in the world after the tiger and lion.

The cougar (Puma concolor), also known as the mountain lion, puma, panther, or catamount, is widespread across the Americas.

New World monkeys (Platyrrhini) are the monkeys of Central and South America; most of them living in the Amazonas. Some of them are very small; the Pygmy marmoset (Cebuella pygmaea) weighs only 100 grams as an adult. They form a distinct group from the Old World monkeys of Asia, Europe and Africa; Old World monkeys are more closely related to humans than to New World monkeys.



South America is famous for its colorful birds, including parrots and toucans. Iguaçu Falls is a well-known destination for birdwatching (not to mention the incredible waterfalls).

The Andean condor (Vultur gryphus) is a national symbol of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru and plays an important role in the folklore and mythology of the Andean regions.

See also

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