images from a january 2007 visit

Matt and I accompanied Tom, his colleague Steve, and their students to Belize in January 2007. It was an amazing experience, particularly for then 7-year-old Matt. The following is an excerpt from my trip journal, and I am including a couple of photos I was able to snap in the rain.

We had about an hour at the zoo and we had the special opportunity to see the troubled jaguar area (ordinarily closed to the public). The zoo staff endeavors, with cooperation of the government of Belize, to save the endangered species when possible from being killed/poisoned when the jaguars, because of declining habitat, start going after domestic animals and are captured. The zoo rehabs the animals in three phases for socialization (Sharon plays guitar and sings to each jaguar nightly -- an unique song with each animal's name in it) and eventually the rehabilitated animals will be donated to approved zoos, usually in the U.S. Introducing rehabilitated wild jaguars to those in captivity facilitates breeding with needed genetic material, because too much inbreeding among jaguars in captivity negatively affects the gene pool.

We got to see "Wild Boy," phase 2, and Matt got to feed him some raw chicken with the help of a zoo staffer who carefully held his fingers in as you can see in the photo. Wild Boy was indeed wild! We also got to see "Field Master," phase 2. Wild Boy gives "paws up" high fives and both cats had been trained to roll over. [Paws Up became our group's rallying cry . . . going along well with the high fives that Steve and Tom occasionally gave the class members at the beginnings of events.] We also saw two females and then were off to explore the zoo on our own until 11:30. . . . I saw some beautiful endangered birds (couldn't get a good photo in the rain) [as well as a] Tapir from about 20 feet away . . .

Paws Up!

Also, for your enjoyment, is a little YouTube video taken by one of the students on the trip, entitled: Tapir Pee.

[Posted by Nan P.]

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