Thursday, December 17, 2009

Universeum - a garden of Eden

On a hillside in Göteborg, Sweden's second largest city, we discovered a tropical rain forest in the middle of a cold Swedish winter. Welcome to Universeum, an extraordinary place to explore the wonders of nature.

Four years ago I stayed at Gothia Towers, a large hotel by the Liseberg entertainment park. As we flickered through a few touristic leaflets, we were told that there were a tropical rain forest near by, under glass protected from the inhospitable Nordic winter. When visiting the first time, I was mesmerized by its beauty. When I and Susanne visited Göteborg in March 2009 we decided to revisit.

Universeum follows the water from the Scandinavian mountains to the sea, and along its way you see different species of fish and even birds on your way.

New to the centre since I visited it, were the giant aquariums with giant to small sized fish passed by. From the aquariums you enter through a double door into a steep cliff with walkway from the top to the bottom. Here you find the most beautiful rain forest with birds, butterflies and even monkeys are left free the wander in the dense foliage.

Here are some of the creatures and plants you may see on your walk along the waterways

Diving Grebe

This charming bird with the eccentric haircut belongs to the Podicipedidae family, a collection of birds that are excellent divers.

Members of the Grebe family are found around the world, some migratory, whereas some stay where they are all year.

This birdy was extremely tame, as it is used to the public walking by. It is found along the way of the water, in the temperate part of the greenhouse.

Read more on the water's way here

Clown fish (Amphiprioninae)

This small fish is known by us that have visited salt water aquariums with tropical fish.

Whereas the Grebe birds are found around the world, the clown fish live in warm waters in the Pacific and the Indian Sea, including the Red Sea and the Great Barrier Reef outside Australia.

They are also called anemonefish, as they may live in close proximity to Sea Anemones, and are immune to their poison. In this way they may avoid being hunted, as they hide among the long arms of their venomous neighbours.

The Clown fish is found in a small tank in the large Aquarium area.

You can follow the fish in the large aquarium on webcam here

Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber)

The fascinating world of the rain forest is inhabited by a number of different birds and butterflies that roam the enormous area freely. In addition to these, a number of venomous spiders, frogs and snakes are found in cages along the walk way.

This brilliantly red Scarlet Ibis drank water in one of the ponds. It is found in South America and some Caribbean islands as Trinidad and Tobago. It thrives in captivity and can reach the respectable age of 20 years.

Goeldi's Monkeys (Callimico goeldii)

This picture of a Goeldi's Monkey is a little blurred, as it is zoomed in on a distance. They live in the tropical rain forests in Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru.

This species was described as late as 1904, and are very rare, as small groups inhabit the dense undergrowth fare apart of each other. They reach an age of around 10 years.

Whereas the Scarlet Ibis moved slowly, thus being easy to study, the Goeldi's Monkeys were jumping around in the trees and bushes like madmen. This is the only decent photo I could get of one of them.

Read more on the Goeldi's Monkeys on Universeums website

Anaconda swamp

On the bottom floor of the rain forest you find a range of ponds with a range of different creatures.

I was particularly fascinated by the anaconda swamp, housing the giant snakes from the deep forest of the Amazonas forests in Brazil.

They can easily strangulate a large animal or a human, and I am very happy that they are kept in large glass tanks, out of reach of us humans.

Read more on what else to find in the Universeum rain forest here

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