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Featured Animals

Mangrove Mapepire, Mangrove Snake

(Liophis cobellus cobellus or Liophis cobella cobella)


The Mangrove Mapepire is the latest addition to the Zoo’s collection delivered on Tuesday, 17th August, 2010. It is a rear-fanged, diurnal, aquatic snake carrying venom hence the name ‘mapepire’. The venom however, is not lethal to humans.  This snake can be found in mangrove forests camouflaged in the mud or swimming near the river bank. It is a fairly common find. Its range covers Villavicencio in the Andes, Colombia and Bolivia, and from Venezuela and Trinidad to Bahia in Brazil.

Our Mangrove Mapepire is already mature, measuring about 15 inches in length although adults can reach nearly two (2) feet. On the ventral to dorso-ventral surface, the scales carry a dark green colour flecked with black and yellow, however the underbelly is mostly pale white distinguishing the mangrove snake from the High Woods Coral, Liophis reginae ssp. Scales are smooth and the head is rounded and reduced. The sex is yet to be determined.

 “Mapepiri mangue” snakes, as they are also called eat fish, lizards and frogs, including the endemic Trinidad Stream Frog, Mannophryne trinitatis. They are not aggressive snakes and are likely to avoid contact with humans.  They are excellent swimmers and spend a lot of time in the water. When threatened, L. c. cobellus will flatten its neck in cobra-like fashion to look bigger and more intimidating. In Trinidad, the snake has been found in the Arima Valley, Caroni Swamp ( and the Old Southern Main Road, Caroni), Barataria, Churchill-Roosevelt Highway, Icacos, Manzanilla, Ortoire, Rio Grande Forest and Sangre Grande. L. c. cobellus is one of three snakes in this genus that can be found in Trinidad. 


Chula the South American Tapir

(Tapirus terrestris)

Chula is one of two tapirs that were originally donated by the Lincoln Park Zoological Gardens in Chicago, USA. Both tapirs arrived as adults on October 10th 1995 but did not remain companions for very long. About a year and a half later, Chula’s male companion suffered untreatable health problems and had to be euthanized.

Chula, however, has been at the Emperor Valley Zoo for almost 15 years now and shows no signs of retiring any time soon. She was born in captivity and was closely raised by keepers at Lincoln Park. So intimate was her upbringing that she grew very accustomed to people and remains quite docile to this day. 

Chula eagerly devours apples and loves to have her belly scratched. When the water level is especially high in her enclosure, she goes into a fit of joy. She would either rise on her hind legs and splash down into the water or run and jump into the pond. 

Tapirs range from Venezuela, Colombia, and Guianas in the north to Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay, in the south, and to Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador in the West. They are considered a vulnerable species worldwide. They like to live in humid forests near rivers and are nocturnal feeders on fruits, leaves, stems, grasses, aquatic plants and organisms. Tapirs are known for their proboscis (feeding apparatus), which is long, flexible, prehensile and covered with sensory hairs. Gestation ranges from 335 to 439 days with one young being born. They are also excellent swimmers and divers.