Before Hurricane Richard visited The Belize Zoo on the 24th of October, our beautiful King Vultures stood proudly in their tree-ful exhibit, amazing all visitors with their majestic manner.
A crushed and thoroughly demolished exhibit caused their necessary removal to the off-site area of the Zoo, and these re-located and confused King Vultures would greet our staff everyday, cackling loudly. We could only believe that this was their way of saying, “Hey! What’s going on?”
A lot was going on! With the fine help of USA Special Forces, their damaged home was torn down. A team of workers, under zoo direction, began to re-construct “Vulture-ville”. And a five-star habitat steadily rose from the rubble.
Tony Garel, with his talented vision, saw that an ancient breeding tube was transformed into a waterfall. And how appropriate. Belize is the one country in Central America where the beautiful King Vulture can still be seen in the wild. Where? King Vulture Falls in the Mountain Pine Ridge is a site where these big and colorful birds live and breed.
Being the third largest vulture in the world, their presence always causes a slight gasp from any observer. What needs to be remembered is that they are not only big and beautiful, but they are also rare. Having the King Vulture greet the Zoo public is a significant testimony to the special wildlife which still calls Belize, “home”.
When The Belize Zoo re-opened on Wednesday, the 1st day of December, the King Vultures STILL had not been introduced into their new home.
Last minute fine-tuning was necessary; a perch here, a plant over there. The furniture still had not been adequately re-arranged to the satisfaction of Zoo officials.
What happened next? After the opening ceremony ended, all attendees followed Zoo Director Sharon Matola, stating that they were going to experience a historic moment in Zoo history. Rex, Sally and son, Perfecto, were about to enter their new post-Hurricane Richard territory. Would they like it? Would they accept the change readily?
With all eyes upon them, the King Vultures flight cages were carefully placed into the new exhibit. The doors opened...and one by one, they cautiously stepped out. Each looked around,looked up and then, as if by cue, flew onto the perches facing public view. Did they look pleased? As cameras snapped and people applauded, Rex, Sally and Perfecto looked around and truly seemed to be putting a “vulture stamp of approval” upon their new home.
Remember to visit The Belize Zoo website at: www.belizezoo.org.