• Geoffrey C. Smith

The Amazon Series

The Artist Telegraph by Geoffrey C. Smith

The Wildlife of the Amazon

Sunset over the Amazon River.

At 90 years old, my father had seen many incredible places across the planet. He is the epitome of a 'world traveler,' but he had still yet to visit a notable place in South America- The Amazon Rainforest. Because of this, my wife and I had the opportunity to take the journey with him for the trip of a lifetime. A trip to one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet... Check out some of the amazing animals we saw while we were there!


Pink River Dolphins

A pink river dolphin pops out of the water to say hi. Notice how its coloring is more grey on top of its head while the body is pink. Each dolphin is unique in the way its color transforms.

Have you heard of the pink river dolphin? Also known as boto, this dolphin's history is a story about evolution. Years and years ago, the river was disconnected from the sea, which caused the river dolphins to be trapped in the Amazon Basin while others escaped roaming the oceans. Eventually, the sea and river came back together again, but the river dolphins had evolved to adjust to the freshwater environment. Because of this, they differ from grey dolphins. Pink dolphins developed characteristics like longer snouts, larger bodies and brains, and melon-like heads compared to grey dolphins. And over a period of time, the river dolphins' bodies will slowly turn light pink. How the coloring evolves is different for each river dolphin; they don't all look the same.

South Americans respect the pink river dolphin immensely. Many myths and legends surrounding the pink river dolphins have been passed down in their culture. They consider the botos to be sacred and believe it to be bad luck to eat them. Many myths surround these beautiful creatures. One popular legend suggests that the pink river dolphin morphs into a handsome man at night and seduces the village women. If you are interested in more myths about the botos, Click here!


Brown-throated Sloths

A brown-throated sloth hangs off the tree in the Amazon Rainforest.

Sloths hang off the tree branches throughout the rainforest. Sloths are arboreal creatures who can't move very fast on the ground. They are actually the slowest moving mammals that exist! Their long claws are what make movement challenging, with the average speed of a sloth at one foot per minute. Interestingly enough, sloths are actually good swimmers despite their slow walking speed!

Though sloth's personal hygiene is questionable, their lack of hygiene is actually a characteristic that offers them safety from predators. Sloths have a symbiotic relationship with algae and mold. The sloth's fur provides an environment for algae and mold to grow and thrive. In return, the algae and mold provide a green camouflage that protects the sloths against predators like jaguars, snakes and eagles. Wouldn't be my most ideal protective layer, but you have to take what you can get!


Rhynochonycteris hang upside down, off trees near the water, undisturbed by the sunlight.