In researching plans for her mother's visit, Cara found that the Zoo offers a Director's VIP Tour. That's where the Zoo founder and director, Sharon Matola, personally takes you on a tour of the zoo, and you get to get up close and personal with several animals.
|While we waited for Sharon to arrive we were greeted by a man with this large boa. He asked|
if we wanted to hold her, and Deedra jumped at the chance.
|Cara at one time had a red tailed boa constrictor, so she wasn't scared either.|
|Sharon arrived and off we went.|
|This deer lacks an enzyme or something that lets the antlers molt properly, so the layers just keep building up for him.|
|These are the same kind of deer we have in Indiana.|
|You get to go inside the enclosure with one of the tapirs and feed him. (It's definitely a him - can you see his "parts" hanging |
down to the ground? That came out as soon as we started feeding him his favorite food.)
|We stopped and fed the other tapirs over the fence.|
|Next we threw bananas over the fence to the spider monkeys.|
|On the ground the spider monkeys were walking and running upright.|
|In the trees the spider monkeys were fast and agile.|
|Deedra feeding seeds to Charlie, a Scarlet macaw.|
|In the cage behind is this guy's brother, George, and he was curious about our interaction with his sibling.|
|This was the only non-native animal in the zoo, but the bird needed to be rescued, and Sharon|
could not refuse.
|Can't remember what kind of parrot this was with the blue head.|
|A red-lored parrot in the front.|
|Coatimundi (aka "quash")|
|There was even one albino coatimundi.|
|We got to go inside with Panama, the Harpy eagle, and feed him.|
|He looks intimidating, but he was quite gentle taking the food (rat meat). He later roused for Deedra (shaking out his |
feathers), and Sharon said that's a sign he's happy and likes you.
|Next door was the female Harpy eagle, but she's not nearly so friendly, so you don't go inside with her.|
|The female is bigger than the male. The zoo tried to release this one back into the wild, but she|
kept coming back, so they let her stay.
|Crocodile (American crocodile, we think - the larger of the two species here)|
|Junior Buddy, the jaguar|
|Notice the little cage behind the logs? We'll get back to that in a moment...|
|Yes, you get to go inside that little cage in the jaguar's habitat for an incredible experience!|
|Not only do you see him closer than you've ever seen a big cat...|
|He also kisses (licks) your forehead!|
|This bird is huge, though our pictures don't show that well.|
|Runt, the Keel-billed Toucan (the national bird of Belize)|
|We got to go inside with him and feed him watermelon!|
|Apparently they found an abandoned egg, and this crocodile hatched from it, so Sharon raised this crocodile from birth.|
|Cara wasn't so sure about this at first...|
|But this crocodile was truly super docile and liked being petted.|
|He would close his eyes when you petted his head or front feet.|
|The feathers were super soft and downy.|
|He had several toys, but apparently this was his favorite.|
|Another spotted Jaguar|
|This doesn't normally happen in nature, but these wild vultures came to live here voluntarily, and the peccary apparently |
decided to go along with it.
|The zoo grounds are really beautiful and lush.|
|Pelicans - these guys were both missing an eye.|
|These are actually two males living together, which does not normally happen in the wild.|
|At the end Sharon signed one of her books about Junior Buddy the Jaguar for Cara's mother. Sharon took her time with us and |
seemed to really enjoy the tour as well. We highly recommend this tour if you get the chance.
Below is a long 18 minute video that is little cuts of each of the animals we saw on the Directors Tour.
|Cara loved this quote on the wall at the zoo.|