Belize - Belize News - Channel5Belize.com - Great Belize Productions - Belize Breaking News
Home » Environment, People & Places » Behind the Scenes at The Belize Zoo – a Look at How the Animals are Fed!
Sep 1, 2020

Behind the Scenes at The Belize Zoo – a Look at How the Animals are Fed!

The Belize Zoo has over two hundred resident animals – and they each require special care and that includes a balanced diet. Some of the animals are big meat eaters, while others require a heavy plant-based diet – whatever it is that they eat – to feed all two hundred is a costly undertaking for the Belize Zoo. And because of the pandemic – the zoo’s revenue stream has dried up as it closed its gate to regular visitation hours. So, tonight we bring you the first of a two-part story that shows some of the work that goes on to keep the zoo animals happy, healthy so that they can each live a long life. Here’s the story of what happens behind the scenes to feed the animals.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

On a visit to the Belize Zoo, you’d see about two hundred plus animals. But to keep these animals healthy, happy and safe, the zoo keepers must take proper care of them. A big part of that care is their nutrition. To find out more, we went behind the scenes at the Belize Zoo’s commissary – where the meals and treats are prepared. And as we found out, some animals, like humans don’t like their veggies – while others have their favorite snacks and prefer sweet fruits. But for all of them, feeding time is their favourite time. And some of their favorite humans are these zoo keepers who feed them.

 

Shania Longsworth

Shania Longsworth, Bird Keeper, The Belize Zoo

“They are getting a little bit more sugar than I normally give them. It’s a cheat day for them. So, today they are getting some watermelon; some papaya; cantaloupe, cucumbers and boiled eggs.”

 

Shania Longsworth is the bird keeper. Robinson is preparing the meals – these colorful, rich and balanced plates help each bird to live a long and healthy life. The birds are fed a combination of fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds so that they can get the nutrients and minerals they need. Some birds are fed once a day; others are fed twice.

 

Shania Longsworth

“What we try to do is to mix up the presentation of the food. Some days we will chop the food up really small and some days we will give them whole food. It is kinda like a guessing game, so that the birds are never bored. So, it is kinda like they are working towards a meal. Some days they work harder than others. Today is an easy day for them, we have chopped all their fruits and veggies and today there is dessert for them too.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“What’s for dessert?”

 

Shania Longsworth

“For the seed eating birds, it is a mix of seeds – sunflower, pellets, some cereal. I like to call it dessert.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Is it a lot of work to cut up all these fruits and veggies for them?”

 

Shania Longsworth

“It takes time. It is definitely a labour of love, but we gotta do it. It is part of making sure that they are happy and healthy.”

 

 

And this man who looks like a butcher hacking away at all this meat – he has a job that most of us wouldn’t envy – he is the Jaguar Keeper. These big cats are big eaters – each one eats three to five pounds of meat every day. Valdez is tasked with feeding and training them.

 

Jose Valdez

Jose Valdez, Jaguar Keeper, The Belize Zoo

“We have some cats who are who are picky with the meats – some of them prefer eating liver more than the chicken. But of course they all love beef but some of them do prefer eating pork and beef but their meals also need to balanced as well so we try to give them a little bit of everything that we can.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Are these big cats big eaters?”

 

Jose Valdez

“Generally, yes, in the wild they would eat until they cannot eat anymore and then they wouldn’t hunt for a couple days- but we don’t given – have a balanced meal.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Is this a scary job for you?”

 

Jose Valdez

“At first it was a little bit intimidating but afterwards you got really up close to them and they trust you and in turn they respect you back and they become great friends.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Friends?”

 

Jose Valdez

“Friends – as people have come to the zoo and had the experience with the Junior in the past and Lindo, the new jaguar – they’ve seen that the jaguars are not as scary as people think.”

 

Carlos Ical

Mammal keeper Carlos Ical is chopping up buckets of food. Every day he prepares six buckets. The Tapirs are big eaters – they eat twice a day. Their diet is made up primarily of green, leafy veggies, some fruits and they especially love root vegetables.

 

Carlos Ical, Mammal Keeper, The Belize Zoo

“Three of them – you can’t go in their without food. You have to be ready with food so that they won’t attack you. That is how they behave. Most of the things that they eat are like ground food – sweet potato; carrots; cucumber and we still go in the wild and look for boroughs that they like and maybe twice a week we bring it to them so they love to eat that also.   The moment when they see you coming with buckets or they hear noise – they are very happy and they are right there – next to do the door. So, at the entrance when they see you they are standing next the door so they won’t attack you because they are seeing food.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So, feeding time is the favorite for them?”

 

Carlos Ical

“Yes. That is their favourite time.”

 

At this work station, Zoo Keeper Gerson Garcia is preparing the food for the howler and spider monkeys, and the Kinkajous. They eat a variety of fruits and veggies – with a big meal and a treat for the day.

 

Gerson Garcia, Zoo Keeper, The Belize Zoo

“Monkeys they like sweet stuff – so papaya is one of their treats – one of their favourites. We can also give them peanuts and dog chow because that is high in protein.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Any of your animals are picky eaters?”

 

Gerson Garcia

“Yes, I am guessing in all sections we have one of those. We have a couple howlers who you can see right away they will go for the papaya first or they will grab the mango because we don’t have that whole year or others will go for green maybe piece of celery. So, different animals, different favourites.”

 

Gerson Garcia

Andrea Polanco

“What do you love about feeding the primates?”

 

Gerson Garcia

“Very interesting, When I first started working with the primates, they have to trust you otherwise they don’t come out or they don’t go inside. They have to get to know you – so they are very smart animals.”

 

It’s a lot of work and dedication to feed these animals – and because of COVID-19 the zoo has been closed to visitors. They are now depending on donations and your kindness to keep these animals fed and taken care of. Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

 

If you can make donations to help support the management of the animals, you are asked to call the Belize Zoo. You can give financial contributions or you can give in kind – the zoo is willingly accepting veggies, fruits, meats, nuts and other food items that the animals can eat.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

Advertise Here

Comments are closed