With endorsement provided by the Belize Tourism Board, a very special workshop occurred recently at the Zoo. TBZ Education Director, Jamal Andrewin, took the lead role to provide a dynamic session for 25 licensed tour guides.
Participants learned more about raptor adaptations by dressing up as a Harpy Eagle! With big wings and huge talons, all could appreciate the “animal adaptation” portion of the day. A common question from tourists, “What do these huge birds of prey eat in the wild?” After the Harpy Eagle session, these eager-to-learn men and women now know the answer …. Coatimundi!
Jamal made sure that part of his lesson plan included the role which our natural resources play in the country’s history, culture and economy. Tour guides sharing this information with visitors will contribute to their guest’s perceptions about the unique profile of our nation.
Handsome black Jaguar, “Lucky Boy” was very happy to meet his tour guide visitors. And while he stood there in his big cat majesty, it was explained why it is that “Lucky Boy” is so much larger than our “home grown Belize jaguars” at the zoo…His ancestry is South American. In that part of a Jaguar’s geographical range, they are over twice as large as the jaguars roaming in Central America.
A highlight, too was the section, “Meet and Greet the Misunderstood”. Zoo Director Sharon Matola shared with all, famous and fantastic, barn owl, “Happy the Owl”. The myth attached to our barn owls, that they are the “bird of evil and misery” was known by every participant in the workshop . “Happy” unraveled this barn owl myth to zero, and the guides were reminded all that these beautiful birds eat more rice and rats than any other animal on the planet!
To the delight of all, “Rose” the American crocodile, also made an appearance. She was photographed and stroked, and left behind a positive impression for her tour guide friends. Too often crocodiles are persecuted in Belize. However, like all animals, they serve an important purpose and have a role to play in our Belizean ecology.
Snakes and their biology were discussed. And of course, all had the opportunity to hold Bal Boa, the resident boa constrictor at the zoo. “Rocky”, a big Jaguar who once fed himself by preying upon cattle, is a star graduate of the zoo’s “Problem Jaguar Rehabilitation Program”. Everyone had the fun opportunity to get inches away from this big fellow.
The day was full of exciting education, and was, indeed, a special day of training for everyone involved!