Here we have compiled a list of short answers to some of the more commonly asked questions. If you are looking for more detailed information, please check out our Species of the Belize Zoo Live Tour page. We are constantly updating this list, so stop back by later for updates.


  • What do tapirs eat?
      • Tapirs are herbivores, and eat mainly plants and fruit.
  • What do tapirs use their trunks for?
      • A tapir’s trunk is very flexible and muscular. It is used to help grab leaves and fruit for them to eat. When swimming, a tapir’s trunk can function like a snorkel to help them breathe.
  • What are the closest relatives to the tapir?
      • Though they look similar to pigs or elephants, tapirs are most closely related to horses and rhinoceros.
  • Are tapirs endangered?
      • Yes, the Central American Tapir is an endangered species, mostly due to habitat destruction.
  • How social are tapirs?
      • Tapirs are mostly solitary. Young tapirs are raised by their mothers and leave at around a year to two years.
  • How many tapirs live in Belize?
      • There are an estimated 3000 adult tapirs alive in the wild. It is unknown exactly how many of these live in Belize, though Belize is known to have one of the healthiest tapir populations in Central America due to conservation efforts.
  • How long do tapirs live?
      • Tapirs live around 20-25 years in the wild and up to 30 years in captivity


  • How long do spider monkeys live?
    • Spider monkeys live around 20-25 years in the wild and 30-40 years in captivity.
  • Why are they called spider monkeys?
    • The name ‘spider monkey’ comes from the way these animals move through the trees and their habit of hanging upside down from tree limbs by their tails.
  • How big do spidery monkeys get?
    • Spider monkeys are usually around 20 pounds (9.1 kg), with females averaging as slightly smaller than males.
  • Are spider monkeys endangered?
    • Yes, the Yucatan spider monkey- the species found in Belize- is endangered due to ongoing loss of their rainforest habitat.
  • How social are spider monkeys?
    • Spider monkeys are very social animals, and live in troops of between 20 and 40 individuals.
  • Are spider monkeys kept as pets?
    • Yes, most of the spider monkeys at the Belize Zoo were formerly owned as pets, though this is illegal in Belize. Spider monkeys are non-domesticated, aggressive wild animals, and keeping them as pets can be dangerous to both monkeys and humans.
  • Do spider monkeys have prehensile tails?
    • Their tails are very strong, and are often used to help climb trees.


  • How long do king vultures live?
    • King vultures can live for 20-25 years in the wild and well over 30 years in captivity.
  • What is the purpose of the king vulture’s crop?
    • A king vulture’s crop is used to collect and temporarily store food the vulture eats. The food will slowly descend from the crop into the vulture’s digestive system. This is why the crop is most prominent shortly after the vulture eats, and appears to deflate over time.
  • How big is a king vulture’s wingspan?
    • A king vulture’s wingspan can reach 6 feet. They are the second-largest raptor in the New World, second only to the California condor.


  • What do spectacled owls eat?
    • Like other owls, spectacled owls are carnivorous. They eat relatively small prey that they can catch, such as rodents, insects, and small birds.
  • How long do spectacled owls live?
    • Spectacled owls can live for 30-35 years.
  • Are spectacled owls the largest owl species in Belize?
    • The spectacled owl is the second-largest owl species in Belize, as the great horned owl- a species also found in the United States- is the largest.


  • Are jaguars social or solitary animals?
    • Jaguars are solitary animals and establish territories in the wild. They only come together when mating, or when female jaguars raise young.
  • What do jaguars eat?
    • Jaguars are carnivorous. They usually hunt relatively small animals, such as the gibnut, but have been known to pursue larger prey, including deer and tapirs.
  • How many jaguars live in Belize?
    • It is difficult to know exactly how many jaguars live in Belize, as a jaguar’s territory may bring it in and out of the country. Research efforts, often utilizing trail cameras, seek to gain a better understanding of Belize’s population. Currently, it is estimated that between 200 and 400 jaguars live in and around Belize.
  • How big do jaguars get?
    • In Belize, jaguars can reach six feet in length and weigh up to 250 pounds.
  • Is a black panther the same species as a jaguar?
    • A black panther is a jaguar with a condition known as melanism, which causes an over-production in dark pigment, making the jaguar appear completely black. Black jaguars have been seen in the wild, though it is unknown if any currently live in Belize.
  • How long do jaguars live?
    • Jaguars in the wild live 10-15 years. They can live longer in captivity, up to about 20 years.


  • Are scarlet macaws endangered?
    • The species as a whole is not considered endangered, but the subspecies found in Central America (Ara macao cyanopterus) is. The main threats facing the scarlet macaw are habitat destruction and poaching for the pet trade.
  • Can scarlet macaws mimic speech?
    • Yes, scarlet macaws are capable of mimicking many noises, including human speech. This is one of the reasons why they are popular in (and vulnerable to) the pet trade.
  • Are scarlet macaws social birds?
    • In the wild, scarlet macaws are found in large flocks of up to several dozen birds, and are almost never seen living alone.
  • How long do scarlet macaws live?
    • They can live up to 60-70 years.


  • How big are ocelots?
    • Ocelots are the third-largest wild cat in Belize, after jaguars and pumas, and reach around three feet in length.
  • What do ocelots eat?
    • Ocelots eat birds, small mammals such as rodents, and occasionally reptiles (including snakes) and fish.
  • Are ocelots solitary or social animals?
    • Like most other wild cats, ocelots are solitary; however, their territories may overlap with those of cats of another species (such as jaguars).


  • How big are harpy eagles?
    • A harpy eagle’s wingspan can reach up to six and a half feet wide. Female harpy eagles can reach 20 pounds, and male harpy eagles are slightly smaller.



last updated April 1, 2021