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Our Wonderful Warees!

Some people think they smell unforgivably bad, but evidently, our white-lipped peccary, or “waree” troop likes the aroma given off by one another. Recently, our pack of happy warees welcomed a baby. This is exciting for all of us here at The Belize Zoo. Breeding the white-lipped peccary in captivity is uncommon.  The recent birth indicates that these dynamic  and smelly beasts are a happy group.

Geographically, the white lipped peccary is found from Mexico into South America.  However, as in so many cases involving wildlife, their numbers are in serious decline. Habitat destruction and hunting are creating a situation where the waree, an important seed disperser in the tropical forest, is becoming seriously rare.

In the wild, the white-lipped peccary can live in groups of 100 or more. They travel together through the forest, searching for food and water. They love to eat fruit, however, when that is scarce, they will make do with roots and lizards, and just about anything edible on the forest floor.

A scent gland at the back provides the “lovely” smell. Why the smell? The waree will rub that odour on each other, and on things in their territory. By doing this, the troop establishes a means of communication. And up to 400 warees can easily stay together and travel as a large troop by following their very own scent.

Many people comment that they must be relatives to the pig.  However, they are in their own distinct family, and provide the bio-diverse nature of the tropics with a distinct and unusual profile. Their value as a seed disperser can easily be seen at The Belize Zoo. The area where the warees currently live had to be urgently built for them. Their original enclosure was totally destroyed by a constant digging and 'vegetation destruction' way of life.

The interesting aspect... after the troop was moved, the enclosure which they trashed sprang into lush life! Due to their waree poop being full of seeds, presto! Within a year, a beautiful “waree garden” developed. Our wonderful warees keep us feeling happy! We hope that more youngsters will be part of The Belize Zoo waree scene in days to come.

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