Da Queen: Harpy Eagle
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October 18, 2021

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The Belize Zoo & Tropical Education Center. The Belize Zoo is settled upon 29 acres of tropical savanna and exhibits over 125 animals all native to Belize. Zoo SceneThe zoo keeps animals which were either orphaned, born at the zoo, rehabilitated animals, or sent to The Belize Zoo as gifts from other zoological institutions. The Belize Zoo believes that by bringing the people of Belize closer to the animals which are their natural heritage, they will feel proud of these special resources, and want to protect them for future generations.
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Da Queen: Harpy Eagle

The harpy eagle got its name from a beast in Greek mythology called a harpy, which was said to have the face of a human and the body of a bird. Despite their mythological appearance, harpy eagles pose no threat to humans. In 2002, The Peregrine Fund did a survey in Panama to find out why people might kill a harpy eagle. The top answers were all related to a misunderstanding about the birdís behavior: itís a common misconception that harpy eagles attack humans, when it reality they hunt mostly arboreal prey including coatis, monkeys, iguanas, and anteaters.

Sadly, the fallacy of attacking humans, mixed with deforestation which brings them closer to humans, results in these apex predators being shot out of fear. Harpy eagles breed for the first time when they are around 6 years old and only produce a single young every 3 years, so every harpy eagle loss makes a huge impact to the dwindling population in Central and South America.

Why is Da Queen in captivity? Da Queen was a captive bred harpy from the Peregrine Fund's facility in Panama. She was meant to be one of 16 harpy eagles released into the wild in Belize to help grow our population in the early 2000s. Although she passed the program and could hunt on her own, during the process she became attached to humans and kept flying back to the release site. After three attempts to release her, it was decided that she was too comfortable with humans to be able to survive in the wild. The main concern was that she would come toward any human she saw in the wild or in nearby villages and be shot out of fear, misunderstanding, or poaching. It was decided that for her survival, she would live safely in captivity at The Belize Zoo as an ambassador for her species, where thousands have been able to witness her up close and learn about these very special raptors.

Photograph courtesy Belize Zoo

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