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Panama the Harpy Eagle Celebrates 10 Years!

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What a remarkable day!  The rains didn’t stop the joy of celebration for our handsome harpy eagle, Panama.  Fifty students from Indian Church School, and sixty students from San Carlos school, both from the Orange Walk District, had a memorable birthday celebration with our celebrity raptor.  Education team, Jamal Andrewin and Johanna Pacheco, brought on the excitement as the kids put on harpy masks and wings, all the while learning about the important role these top predators play in the forest ecology profile of their country.

The kids are harpy eagle fans due to being exposed to these cool birds of prey in the past.  Their schools were visited frequently during the five years when The Belize Zoo was head starting the Belize Harpy Eagle Restoration Program, BHERP.  Today, they are still keen on these magnificent birds of prey, and were excited to reunite with Panama, and his stunning lady harpy eagle neighbor, Daqueen.  Playing games was followed by a rice and beans lunch, and to the delight of all the children and teachers, a new harpy eagle poster was a gift to all.

 While the kids were having fun with Panama, another event was occurring in the main building at the zoo.   Belizean wildlife biologist and artist, and Peregrine Fund field researcher, Jonathan Urbina, joined the British High Commissioner, Mr. Peter Hughes, and unveiled a stunning piece of artwork.  “Anibru” is an astounding art form consisting of thousands of feathers which Jonathan has collected over the past thirteen years.  All were found, some were contributed by friends (quite a few from the zoo), and the result is a breathtaking display of Belizean bird natural history.  “I want people to really see how beautiful birds are, and this can be appreciated by looking at this colourful collection of Belizean bird feathers”, said Jonathan.  And he is so correct! 

British High Commissioner, Mr. Peter Hughes, added sparkle and shine to the unveiling ceremony.  Years ago, the British High Commission contributed funds which helped to see that Panama the harpy eagle receive his four-star enclosure at the zoo.  Why?  The issue of Climate Change is high on the list of the British High Commission issues of concern.  Keeping tropical forest standing and in a healthy state, works to curb the negative effects of climate change.  One acre of tropical forest takes in six tons of carbon dioxide, and emits four tons of oxygen!  Our forests are the lungs of the planet, and preserving these rich habitats is good for people AND harpy eagles, too.

To top off the exciting morning, children from the neighboring St. Agnes Anglican Pre-School happily sang out the song, “Panama the Harpy Eagle” with pride and enthusiasm.  What a morning!  What a terrific celebration, drawing important attention to both a rare species, and a vital environmental issue.  Definitely, a ‘TALONS UP’ day at The Best Little Zoo in the World!

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