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Peru's Most Fascinating Animals and Plants

Peru is one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet and has a fascinating array of birds, mammals and plants that live there.

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Photo: Shutterstock

Peru's Natural Wonders

Located on the western coast of South America, Peru has a diverse landscape that includes mountains, beaches, deserts and rainforests. Peru is also one of the most biodiverse countries in the world with one-third of all plant and animal species on earth inhabiting the Peruvian Amazon. Some well-known attractions in Peru include the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu, the bustling capital of Lima and Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. Along with these incredible sites, Peru is filled with many rare and unusual plants and animals. From pink dolphins to 50-foot-tall plants, here are some of Peru’s most astonishing living wonders.

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Photo: Renzo Tasso

Three-Toed Sloth

Three-toed sloths make their homes on the treetops of the Peruvian rainforest, and the stereotypes about sloths are true. Sloths are one of the slowest animals in the world, and their metabolism is half the rate of other mammals their size. Three-toed sloths usually weigh 8-10 pounds and can live to 25-30 years, and their signature long claws are used for hanging onto trees and vines. Another interesting fact? Some sloths will have a green tinge to their coat, which is the result of algae that grows on the slow-moving animals, and it helps them camouflage among the leafy jungle.

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Spectacled Bear

Found in Northern Peru, the spectacled bear is the only native bear species in South America, and these impressive animals can live up to 25 years. The males grow up to 30% larger than the females and can weigh up to 350 lbs. The bear gets its name from light-colored rings around its eyes that look like spectacles, and it also has marks down its neck and chest that are unique to each bear. Unlike other species of bears, a spectacled bear doesn’t hibernate but eats year-round, mostly feasting on fruit, bark and leaves.

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Photo: Photographer:a.bryce

River Otter

River otters are also known as "lobos del rio," or the wolves of the river, because of the way they attack their predators. This sleek animal can grow up to 6 feet long and likes to hang out in groups of up to 20, which helps them to fight off attacks. Though these animals are aggressive on the water, they shy away from humans, and your best chance of catching a river otter in the wild is in Peru’s Madre de Dios region, known for its large otter communities.

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