When you think of wildlife in Brazil you probably think of the Amazon–and for good reason. There are a lot of animals to be seen in the Amazon region in Brazil. However, Brazil has another animal-rich area that gives the Amazon a run for its money. It’s called the Pantanal and it’s the world’s largest tropical wetland and home to an astonishing cast of characters, including an incredibly dense concnetration of jaguars. We spent weeks exploring this vast area, which was made a UNESCO World Heritage Conservation Area in 2000, and here’s a look at our best wild animal sightings in the Pantanal (yes, there will be jaguars).

Wild animal sightings in the Pantanal, Brazil

We saw seven individual jaguars during our time in the Pantanal including those pictured below (clockwise from top left): a female along the Rio São Lourenço outside of Porto Jofre, her two cubs along the same river, a young female at the Caiman Ecological Refuge, and a large male on the trail at Caiman Ecological Refuge.

Herons are plentiful in the Pantanal including several rarely seen types pictured below (clockwise from top left) the agami heron, the capped heron, the whistling heron, the refescent tiger heron, the little blue heron, and the cocoi heron.

Anteaters love the Pantanal and we saw both endemic species of this lumbering, pre-historic seeming creature including the giant anteater (left) and the Southern tamandua (aka lesser anteater).

Of all of the flamboyant birds of the Pantanal (and there are many), none is more impressive than the hyacinth macaw, in part because this species is considered vulnearable and in part because of its starring role in the animated movie Rio. They’re also drop dead gorgeous and extremely playful with each other as you can see in our photos below.

Tapirs are weird creatures. They’re also notoriously shy. However, the tapirs we saw in the Pantanal must not have gotten that memo. Shortly after the one pictured below got out of the water near Pousada do Rio Mutum Lodge, it joined its mate on a dry bank and, well, you’ll have to watch our video below to see what happened next…

We’ve already declared our love for the hyacinth macaws of the Pantanal, but they share the skies and the trees with a wide-range of impressive parrots, parakeets, and other types of macaws as pictured below including (clockwise from top left) blue-and-yellow macaws, blue-fronted Amazon parrot, golden-collared macaws, and monk parakeets.

Monkeys are another good reason to keep an eye on the treetops. We’ve seen howler monkeys all over Latin America, but these black-and-gold howler monkeys, pictured below, were a first for us. Adult males are often black while females and juveniles are often golden.

We pulled over to get a closer look at the usually hard-to-spot black-tailed marmoset, below, which we were able to see easily in the sparce foliage of the Pantanal.

Black-tailed Marmoset

Jabiru storks, like the pair pictured below, are enormous and adorable in a grotesque sort of way.

Jabiru stork

Check out those teeth. There’s a reason the other name for giant river otters, like the one pictured below, is water jaguar.

Giant river otter

It may look like an emu or an ostrich, but it’s not. The giant flightless bird, pictured below with a few of its offspring, is an American rhea.

America Rhea

We would be remiss if we didn’t include a picture of a capybara family. Next to the millions of caiman in the Pantanal, this is one of the region’s most common (and sometimes comical) residents.

Capybara - Pantanal

We don’t often see aptly-named roseate spoonbills and they’ve never posed as nicely as the one, below, that we spotted in the Pantanal.

Roseate Spoonbill - Pantanal, Brazil

Crab-eating foxes, like the one below, are scruffy regulars in the Pantanal.

Crab-eating Fox - Pantanal, Brazil

The toco toucan is the largest of all the toucans and we saw plenty of them in the Pantanal including the pair pictured below in a tree near the Araras Pantanal Eco Lodge.

Toco Toucan - Pantanal, Brazil

Yes, there’s a bird in the photo below. A great potoo, to be exact. It’s proof that not all of the special creatures in the Pantanal come in vibrant colors.

Great Potoo - Pantanal, Brazil

You only have to hear it once to see why this bird is called a southern screamer. We heard this group of adults and offspring, in a wetland near Hotel Pantanal Norte in Porto Jofre, long before we saw them.

Southern screamer - Pantanal, Brazil

Hear more reasons why we loved our time traveling in this part of Brazil in this podcast we did about the Pantanal for Visit Brazil.

Here’s more about travel in Brazil