The chocolate rhinoceros, snail crunchers and jumping fish: Whipsnade Zoo homes world's most unusual endangered species

From stingrays to snail shell eating fish, Whipsnade zoo is now home to unusual endangered species. Credit: ZSL

Have you ever seen a fish that can live out of water or a snail crunching species from the lakes of Madagascar?

Whipsnade Zoo in Dunstable has become home to the world's most unusual endangered fish.

As they open the UK’s the first aquarium dedicated to conserving these threatened freshwater fish, here's a look at the species you can expect to see this summer.

Chocolate rhinoceros suckermouth catfish are some of the fish who jump for their food. Credit: ZSL

Visitors can tour ten of the earth’s most extreme aquatic habitats from the unlikely home of puddles in Africa to the flooded forests in Brazil.

The fish on display have all developed unusual abilities to survive in the world's worst environments.

One such fish is the dusky narrow hatchetfish from Brazil which can jump out of the water to pluck low-hanging fruits and seeds from trees when the Amazon rivers flood each year.

Following the trend, the oddly-named chocolate rhinoceros suckermouth catfish also like to leap for their lunch.

Another newcomer, the Caribbean mangrove killifish, can cling onto trees and spend as long as 66 days out of water during dry season.

You wouldn't want to swim with a pinstripe damba who can crunch through snail shells. Credit: ZSL

The new exhibit hopes to show off the weird and wonderful fish that need protecting as freshwater fish are the most threatened ecosystem on Earth.

Although their habitats take up just 1% of the world's water, almost half of all fish can be found there.

On the underwater adventure, visitors can peek into the ‘engine room’ to see the whole life cycles of the fish exhibited.

The Omani blind cave fish are a species who have adapted in an extraordinary way.

They are born with eyes, but as they grow their eyes start to close over. So to adapt, they direct themselves around the darkest caves by sucking in water to sense its surroundings.

While other oddly evolved creatures include the critically endangered pinstripe damba whose teeth are so strong they can crack through snail shells.

Nothobranchius-sainthousei known as Sainthouse's killifish was named after a ZSL volunteer. Credit: ZSL

Some of the species on display are extinct in the wild and can only be spotted at the zoo's new aquarium.

The zoo has also become home to a range of other wildlife who live on the water's edge such as endangered Chinese crocodile lizards and Mexican red-kneed tarantulas.

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s Aquarium Team Leader Alex Cliffe said: “It will be the first Aquarium in the Zoo’s almost 90-year history, and it will be an incredibly vibrant, colourful, sensory experience that not only reveals the secret life of fish, but gives an insight into the conservation work underway to rescue some of the world’s most incredible fish from the brink of extinction.”

The new aquarium opens on Friday 26 July, for more information visit