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Exotic Critters for All to See in Miami

Dr. Jason Chatfield has a diverse set of friends. Some slither. Others have razor-sharp teeth, or are pros at climbing trees. And they all thrive in his tropical climates.

Chatfield, animal curator of Miami's Jungle Island Theme Park, introduced "The Early Show" to some of his favorite exotic animal pals on the broadcast Thursday.

Check out the additional information about the animals seen on "The Early Show," provided by Miami's Jungle Island Theme Park:

Blue and Gold Macaw:
Blue and Gold Macaws are a hugely popular bird for several reasons, the least of which is their striking color. These easy-going birds make wonderful companions, and most will learn to repeat many things -- sometimes even things they shouldn't! Hailing from the rainforests of South America, macaws are the largest birds in the parrot family and can live up 50 years or more in captivity. Although native to South America, there is a large breeding colony in Miami-Dade County.

Burmese Python:
The Albino Burmese Python is extremely easy for predators to see. This color variation is found almost exclusively in captivity. There is a lot of controversy surrounding these snakes, so much so that there are at least two acts aimed at correcting this problem.

The Burmese python is a very gentle, non-aggressive snake -- one reason why it is immensely popular as a pet. However, these snakes can grow upwards of 15 feet long, and weigh as much as 150 pounds. These carnivorous predators will eat just about anything they can get their jaws around, but their main diet consists of small mammals and birds.

Burmese pythons have been in the recently because of the growing population found in the Everglades. How they got their remains a mystery. The popular belief is that the snakes get too large for their owners, and rather than find them a different home, the snake owner simply drops them off in the Everglades. No matter how the snakes first arrived in the national park, there is no question that they are thriving. There is also controversy as to whether or not the snakes are actually causing a problem and upsetting the already delicate ecosystem. One thing is for sure, the southern Florida climate suits these beautiful snakes perfectly.

Baby Orangutan:
The 8-month-old orangutan is a cuddly little animal. Known as the gentle giants, orangutans are the largest tree-dwelling mammal in the world. Adult males can weigh as much as 250 pounds. However, the female orangutan seen on the broadcast only weighs 30 pounds.

Oragutans are part of the great apes, which include chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas. Orangutans are not monkeys. One way to tell a monkey from an ape is the fact that no apes have tails. Orangutans are the only great ape to hail from Asia -- all other great apes are native to Africa, while orangutans come from the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. These animals also differ from the other apes because they tend to be less social, and can be considered solitary when compared to the other great ape social structures.

Bengal Tiger Cub:
When the 4-month-old cub seen on "The Early Show" grows up, she will be a very intimidating Bengal tigress. Bengal tigers are found in Indonesia and Southeast Asia.

Red Kangaroo
The red kangaroo is from Australia. Males can get up to six feet tall and weigh 200 pounds when standing on their hind legs. The 5-month-old kangaroo seen on the broadcast will be slightly smaller when grown. Females are the only ones that have a pouch.

In general, people think that kangaroos are dangerous, but they aren't. Since males get so large, they can become dangerous if they get aggressive.

The red kangaroo on the show has been bottle-fed for the past two months. We leave them in their pouch so that they feel right at home. They can live in the pouch for up to nine months without ever leaving, and then will slowly venture out, but remain in the pouch anywhere from 18 months to two years.

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