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#423810 - 12/01/11 02:39 PM Panama, the Zoo’s Harpy Eagle,celebrates milestone
Marty Offline


Birthdays are happy occasions and at the Belize Zoo, it is no different. This morning a special harpy eagle, who our cameras have been following for some time, reached another milestone inching closer to one decade of life. We were there when Panama turned on his charm greeting students and visitors and the cameras of course. News Five’s Delahnie Bain reports.

Delahnie Bain, Reporting

When you hear of a birthday celebration at the Belize Zoo, April the Tapir comes first to mind. But today the party was for a special Harpy Eagle named Panama.

Sharon Matola, Founding Director, Belize Zoo

Sharon Matola

“It’s an important celebration for Panama the Harpy Eagle, who is nine believe it or not and he has been a prominent part of our Harpy Eagle conservation and release back into the wild program.”

Delahnie Bain

“How is that? Can you expound on that?”

Sharon Matola

“I’d love to explain that. We started that in 2003 and what it was the eagles were captive bred and brought to Belize and put back in the forest where they once lived. But they’ve been kind of wiped out. So the program was to reestablish Harpy Eagles in Belize. Panama could not be part of the reintroduction because when he hatched his eye was damaged and so you don’t put a damaged animal into the wild. So he became our educational Harpy and an ambassador for Harpy eagles everywhere.”

Over a hundred students were bused in for the party; among them were guests from St. Agnes Preschool, who sang a special song for Panama.

Sharon Matola

“They are from the preschool in La Democracia and I go up there and work with the children. They come here, see the animals, learn conservations songs; we just have a good time. They’re the future leaders of our country and they are going to be in tuned with the wildlife that’s out there.”

Camille McFadzean, Teacher, St. Agnes Anglican Preschool

Camille McFadzean

“It has been great because there the children have learnt a lot about the different zoo animals and now Sharon has taught them mussy every song for each animal so they could sing each song for the animals; jaguar, Junior Buddy birthday, Panama, the different animals. So it’s exciting. She has been doing good work there at the preschool so we are grateful and thankful to be educating the children in that form.”

Preschool teacher, Camille McFadzean, accompanied the Founding Director of the Zoo, Sharon Matola, to give the birthday boy his treats. At his age, it was expected that human interaction would be dangerous, but Panama welcomed his visitors.

Sharon Matola

“I was told by the experts that he could only be managed, gotten in with and shared with people until he was two and then he would be completely kind of not doable with people. But I kept working with him on a regular basis and as you can see he quite enjoyed the company. But when people are afraid—I mean he’s a huge bird with these big talons, he is kind of scary and so you can’t help but be a little nervous and he can sense that so you never know what’s gonna happen. But as soon as he got used to the whole scene he was so wonderful. He’s just such a cool bird.”

Camille McFadzean

“It was very exciting. I was a bit nervous though because the last time I was in that cage, Panama just jumped in my head. But I said I’m going to go in there and just be calm. Maybe it’s because I was that nervous the last time; but now I was not that nervous but excited more than anything and I enjoyed it. It really gives the children a lot of exposure to see the Panama at the zoo and they enjoy seeing their teacher feeding the Panama so I’m happy about it.”

Matola hopes that Panama will get along just as well with the female Harpy when they are introduced.

Sharon Matola

“What I hope is that he is going to accept the female next door because within the next year we’ll probably introduce them together and hopefully they’ll make little Panama’s, bird you know; we hope. With Harpy’s you never know but they’ve been side by side for a couple years so I think it’ll go okay.”

Delahnie Bain for News Five.

The Harpy Eagle is one of the four largest birds in the world and at age nine, Panama has a wing span of almost six feet.

Channel 5

#497967 - 11/15/14 10:03 AM Re: Panama, the Zoo’s Harpy Eagle,celebrates milestone [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Panama, The Harpy Eagle At 11

Panama turned 11 today. Now if you are not quite sure 'who' Panama is, he is the most famous Harpy Eagle in Belize. To mark this occasion, the Belize Zoo threw him a party; not with confetti, cake or ice cream but with the warm presence of his human friends.

Courtney Weatherberne reporting
These students are here to celebrate Panama's 11th birthday at the Belize Zoo. Although there were recreational activities for the kids, it wasn't your usual birthday party celebration, but a celebration nonetheless of this majestic creature.

Sharon Matola, Founding Director, Belize Zoo
"Well I raised Panama, so he is a special boy to me and its very satisfying to see kids share a love, a likeness, a bond of compassion for a bird that looks like he could pick you up and drop you on the floor right - he wouldn't do that. He is a terrific symbol and a wonderful ambassador for Harpy eagles everywhere."

At first sight, Panama may seem intimidating with his 5 inch talons, sharp curved beak, 6 foot wing span and piercing eyes. But according to his caretakers, these attributes don't define his character.

Sharon Matola
"They are sweethearts. They may look mean, but they are little "tweety" bird inside. I think people sometimes misunderstand apex predators and usually they are pretty fierce animals, well they have to be. They are apex predators and they are hunters. What they do is simply balance the ecosystems and you can look all over the world; when you remove the predators, problems occur."

And these youths were not afraid at all, in fact they were all impressed with Panama's predatory features.

Courtney Weatherberne
"This is the first time you are seeing Panama?"

Philip Castillo, Hattieville Government School
"Yes ma'am."

Breayne Staine, Hattieville Government School
"Panama is big and huge and that he is a big and pretty bird."

Cameron Williams, Hattieville Government School
"His beak is strong and he uses his claw to bore his prey when he catches them."

Tyrone Garnett, Hattieville Government School
"Panama is a super hero of the sky."

Sharon Matola
"We are amazed of how popular Panama is. It's wonderful because he represents a vary sparse population of Harpy Eagle that still live in Belize, but the more we get to know him and the more we get to appreciate his beauty, the more they will be respected and that's the whole focus of today and as you can see we have a lot of kids out here. They are going to have a great day and they are going to take back with them great memories and that Harpy Eagles are cool and necessary for our country."

Panama was brought to Belize on March 20th, 2003. He had damaged his left eye during hatching and was taken to the Belize Zoo. Harpy Eagles have a 40 year life span.

Channel 7

#497990 - 11/15/14 07:03 PM Re: Panama, the Zoo’s Harpy Eagle,celebrates milestone [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

awesome post by Rebecca of the San Pedro Scoop on the birthday party!

What Do You Get a Harpy Eagle for His Birthday? A Party at the Belize Zoo

My friend and I took the bus out to the zoo (and what a GORGEOUS day) for the 10am party. Two schools were there and you could feel the excitement – one school from Hattieville and one from Cotton Tree, Belize. There were games set up… And a bouncy house… Here is one of the very best parts of the party. Animal parties at the Belize Zoo OBVIOUSLY need a song. And this one, for Panama, is written to the tune of Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog”. The media was there interviewing a true Belize star – Sharon Matola, the founder of the Belize Zoo.


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