SANDY, Utah (CBS Las Vegas) – Electric eels are helping to light up holiday decorations at a local aquarium.

According to United Press International, the Living Planet Aquarium used the charge given by the animal to illuminate its Christmas tree.

The eels – and the tree – can reportedly be found in the aquarium’s “Journey to South America” gallery.

“Visitors can visually and audibly experience the power of our electric eel and get a real sense of how amazing this creature is,” public relations and marketing director Angie Hyde was quoted as saying. “We thought we’d put a festive twist on it for the holidays which has been a huge hit with our members and visitors.”

Cache Valley Electric project manager Terry Smith told UPI that eels generate enough electricity to make four light strands on a five-foot tree to flash at random intervals.

Aquarium officials additionally explained to the news service that electric eels can discharge electrocytes – cells within their bodies – that could create a 600-volt electric charge, or approximately five times the power offered by a wall socket in the United States.

The website FishBase states that discharges are caused by two organs in the electric eel’s body that, combined, account for four-fifths of the creature. Discharges are usually used by the eels in hunting, to incapacitate their prey.

According to the Living Planet Aquarium’s website, patrons will be able to see many other creatures as well.

“Journey To South America takes you through the rainforests of South America, where you will encounter 10-foot anacondas, piranha, caiman alligators, desert insects, tree boas, electric eels, tree frogs and Amazon giants,” the site explains. “The exhibit will also educate guests about the biodiversity of rainforest ecosystems, the benefits rainforests provide us and how we all can help protect these amazing habitats!”

Visitors to the aquarium will reportedly be able to see the tree until the end of the month.


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