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World Famous Anaconda Dies

A wild southern green anaconda known as Ana Julia dies of unknown causes in Brazil
By Bethany Augliere | Published On April 8, 2024
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World Famous Anaconda Dies

Green anaconda underwater brazil

The green anaconda nicknamed Ana Julia was recently found dead in Brazil.

Cristian Dimitrius

For many years, the crystal clear waters of the Formosa River in Brazil were home to a gentle giant: a 20.7-foot southern green anaconda (Eunectes murinus), named Ana Julia. Recently, this beloved snake was found dead in the river.

Anacondas are large, aquatic snakes that live east of the Andes Mountains in tropical South America. They have several adaptations for their watery lifestyle, such as eyes and ears located atop their heads allowing them to stay submerged underwater while stalking capybaras, fish and deer.

As constrictors, they don’t use venom to kill. Instead, they coil their muscular bodies around their prey, squeezing them to death.

Related Reading A Serpent Submersion: Diving with Anacondas

Top Predators of the Rainforest

Holding reign as the top predators in the rainforest, their presence indicates a thriving ecosystem. That’s why the loss of a large, breeding female like Ana Julia is particularly devastating, said Cristian Dimitrius, a wildlife filmmaker, who has been visiting this region for 20 years to swim with the large reptiles. “This is a very special place where we find anacondas in conditions where we can get into the water and dive.”

Over time, Dimitrius, scientists and others began to recognize the individuals, like Ana Julia. “We started going there specifically because of this snake, which was very friendly and has never shown any aggression,” he said. Watching and observing her, the filmmakers and scientists could learn more about the snakes’ movement patterns and behavior.

Dimitrius has even witnessed Ana Julia mating. She’s been in countless documentaries and viral videos and is “the most famous snake in the world,” he said.

Mysterious Death

While it was originally suspected she died from a gunshot wound, her death is still being investigated via autopsy. “If confirmed, this is a senseless tragedy on the level of someone shooting a panda. It’s so incredibly maddening. The value of animals like this goes far beyond the conservation of a particular species,” said Brian Fry, a professor at the University of Queensland in Australia who studies anacondas.

Bonito is a growing hot spot to dive with anacondas and Ana Julia is well-known to the local community. “I’ve been in the water with very large anacondas, and it's magic,” Fry said.

“The loss of a magnificent animal like this has immediate implications for the local economy that benefits from ecotourism. It is only through these kinds of benefits that the ecosystems as a whole are conserved. These kinds of conservation through commercialization ventures are exactly the kind that is why we have whale-watching instead of commercial whaling. The fact that whales are worth more to ecotourism is why they are not dead on the back of a ship.”