Red-Bellied Piranhas Return to Chester Zoo

After more than 30 piranha-less years, Chester Zoo has welcomed dozens of red-bellies to one of its aquariums.

  • Forty red-bellied piranhas are now calling Chester Zoo home.
  • It’s the first time the zoo has cared for the species in over 30 years.
  • Chester Zoo hopes to help rewrite piranhas’ fearsome reputation.

Last week, dozens of red-bellied piranhas moved into Chester Zoo’s ever-popular Central and South American exhibit. It’s the first time in over three decades that the Upton-by-Chester-based zoo has housed the species. A total of 40 red-bellies now reside in an Amazon-themed tank within the zoo’s Spirit of the Jaguar habitat.

“Piranhas have never had the most darling of reputations,” says Chester Zoo’s aquarium team manager, Hannah Thomas. “The narrative that’s been unfairly attached to them is one of a brutal predator with a fearsome reputation.”

“We hope the arrival of the piranhas here at the zoo will help us to start to dispel some of these myths,” Hannah continues. “The role they play in maintaining the balance of aquatic ecosystems is key, and, without them, many other species that live in the same areas as them would be unable to thrive and survive.

“Ecosystems are delicate and if one piece is to be removed,” she adds, “the whole thing can start to come crashing down.”

Chester Zoo’s piranhas are now at the heart of its immersive Central and South American habitat – Spirit of the Jaguar. The immersive exhibit allows visitors to come face-to-face with the zoo’s jaguar, observe the gentle behaviour of its two-toed sloths, and discover the fascinating underwater inhabitants of the Amazon River – red-bellied piranhas now included!