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Belize Harpy Eagle Restoration Program, BHERP The BHERP continues to soar! At this writing, eight Harpy Eagles now call Belize their home. An important foraging study has begun, which involves biologists following these birds to assess habitat use and prey taken. It was exciting to note that recently, one of the released males had successfully caught an opossum. This particular bird has been slow at becoming independent, but now appears to understand the “hunting program”. Our efforts to bring about an increased awareness about the Harpy Eagle in Belize took leaps forward when Celso Poót, our director of Education, organized the development and placement of two billboards along our two major highways. A short but important message: PROTECT THE PREDATORS THEY BALANCE NATURE, accompanies a beautiful portrait of a Harpy Eagle. The radio program about the Belize Harpy Eagle Restoration Program, continues to be broadcast daily by our host station, FM 2000, and is very popular! A huge star for the Harpy Eagle was a visit from acclaimed Wildlife Artist, John A. Ruthven. Along with a group of extremely cool people, Mr. Ruthven witnessed the successful release of a captive-bred, female Harpy Eagle, into the forests of the Rio Bravo Conservation Management Area, (RBCMA), in Northwestern Belize. The Belize Defence Force, under the expert flying skills of Major Ganney Dortch, flew the group over the forest so that they could get the “bird’s view” of Harpy Eagle habitat in Belize. The week ended with the unveiling of a stunning print of a Harpy Eagle, painted by John A. Ruthven in the early 1990’s, at the Gerald Durrell Visitors Centre. Quite the Party! It all bodes well for the magnificent Harpy Eagle. The birds are appearing to really appreciate their new home, Belize continues to learn about these predators and their importance in maintaining a healthy balance within our ecosystems; and John A. Ruthven’s Harpy Eagle gift to the Belize Zoo is simply breathtaking! Panama The Harpy Eagle Turns 3 Years Old What a morning! On the 12th of October, our charismatic Harpy Eagle, “Panama”, turned three years old. Captive bred in Panama, by The Peregrine Fund, he hatched minus vision in his left eye. This made “Panama” unsuitable for release into the wild. He was given to TBZ as a “spokes-Harpy” and “Panama” teaches all of our many zoo visitors that Harpy Eagles are an important part of tropical forest ecology. TBZ is working with The Peregrine Fund, the Government of Belize, and Programme for Belize, to restore these beautiful birds-of-prey back into our forest landscape. The Harpy Eagle will not wipe out our monkey populations in Belize!! (stop laughing.. we hear this comment now and again). The Harpy Eagles which have been released and are now hunting on their own are eating: Kinkajous, coatimundis, opossums, porcupines and even grey foxes! To celebrate Panama’s third birthday, the children of La Democracia pre-school came to the zoo. The students sang “Panama the Harpy Eagle” - a song they have been taught by zoo director, Sharon Matola. Both national television stations covered the happy event and each television reporter helped feed “Panama” his birthday meal of fresh rat. Amidst decorations and singing, “Panama” seemed to enjoy the attention.
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