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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 February 2019

Dubai's indoor rainforest is now home to 1,000 piranhas

The Green Planet has welcomed a school of flesh-eating fish to its growing family of animals

One thousand piranha fish have been released into the waters at the popular indoor attraction. Courtesy The Green Planet 
One thousand piranha fish have been released into the waters at the popular indoor attraction. Courtesy The Green Planet 

The pygocentrus nattereri, also known as the red-bellied piranha, is said to be among the more dangerous and most aggressive of the species out there. But that hasn't held The Green Planet back from welcoming 1,000 of them into its ever-growing family of critters at Dubai's tropical rainforest bio-dome in City Walk.

That's because the team of wildlife experts is on a mission to change our minds about the fish with razor-sharp teeth that are best known for being capable of ripping mouth-sized chunks of flesh out of other beings.

"It's more fiction than fact that piranhas feast on humans and the experts at The Green Planet are ready to smash this Hollywood stigma," the team said.

The Flooded Rainforest is where the fish now live, alongside the motoro stingrays and archerfish. Elsewhere, you'll find more than 3,000 plants and animals, including rare creatures like the Linnaeus's two-toed sloth, a Burmese python and squirrel monkeys.

A view of Dubai's tropical rainforest bio-dome, Green Planet. Pawan Singh / The National
A view of Dubai's tropical rainforest bio-dome, Green Planet. Pawan Singh / The National

Experts are milling around all day, answering any questions from the public, and at 4pm they'll feed the piranhas, so visitors can watch.

It'll look a bit like this:

"We are beyond excited to announce the newest addition to our ever-growing species," said Paul Parker, general manager of Family Entertainment Centers. "We also look forward to rewriting the piranhas fearsome stereotype and educating the public on this fascinating creature."

Here are seven fun facts about piranhas, shared by The Green Planet team, you may not know (or believe):

1. Piranhas bark. They make a noise similar to a dog's bark when they're angered or confronting another creature. But they apparently bark more than they bite.

2. The word "piranha", derived from Portuguese, means "fish tooth". Funny, that.

3. Piranha ancestors have lived in South America for millions of years. The modern genus of the fish has been around for an estimated 1.8 million years.

4. When a piranha's tooth breaks off, a new one grows in its place.

5. Some of them are vegetarian. And others are full-on cannibals.

6. The reason piranhas swim around in schools is more from fear than an aggressive hunting tactic.

7. If you leave them (and their eggs) alone, they'll leave you alone.

Updated: February 6, 2019 04:41 PM

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