It is an unforgettable experience! Visitors to the zoo can now stand mere inches away from one of the rarest birds in the world – the Scarlet Macaw. These two lively youngsters were hatched at the zoo in May 2009. Mom and Dad Macaw lacked the natural knowledge in rearing the babes, so zoo personnel took over that important job.
Next step? A hand-raised Scarlet Macaw is not suitable for release into the wild. In nature, they spend up to two years with the parent birds, learning which trees to feed from, nest in, and how to avoid predators – a complex menu of behavior strategies! It would also be a difficult maneuver to introduce the youngsters to the adult foursome of Scarlet Macaws who reside nearby the zoo’s entry. These are birds who are serious about establishing their territory. And two “fresh faces” would result in some degree of conflict Taking all of this into consideration, Zoo officials worked daily with “Charlie” and “Hilario” and saw to it that they became “visitor friendly”.
Now, Zoo guests, accompanied by a zookeeper, can enter the living space of “Charlie” and “Hilario” and stand close to these beautiful birds, study the colours of their feathers, watch their “sibling interactions”, feed them, and of course, take photos with these two bright red beauties. The Scarlets, used to human companionship since their entry into the world, enjoy the “Close Encounter” as much as their guests, and the event results in happy birds and happy bird-visitors.
Standing next to “Charlie” and “Hilario”, Belizean visitors are often told that, less than 30 years ago, Scarlet Macaws would occasionally be seen flying down the Macal River towards the Hawksworth Bridge! The numbers of Scarlet Macaws in Belize have decreased significantly since those days.
The Chalillo Dam project, which destroyed so much of their important home-habitat, combined with increased poaching of the birds from illegal incursions, has readily guaranteed that the only easy-to-see Scarlet Macaw in Belize, is at the Best Little Zoo in the World. Come and marvel at these amazingly beautiful birds. They love the company!