Save the Royal Rat
In a large, natural enclosure, is the Gibnut breeding program for the “Royal Rat”, Paca (or Gibnut, as it is called by the locals). We are attempting to increase their numbers for eventual release back into the wild, however, since these animals only have one or at most two "pups" in a year, it is a slow process. We currently have seventeen "Royal Rats" in our breeding program.
The name “Royal Rat” (or Queen's Rat) comes from the dinner given in Belize when the Queen visited in 1985, where Gibnut was served. The tabloid press back in England proclaimed "Queen Eats Rat"! The newly independant Belizeans thought this hilarious and dubbed it "The Royal Rat" and the name stuck! As Gibnut is considered a delicacy, its meat is much sought after and the Gibnut is heavily hunted. In Guatemala, the Gibnut is almost extinct. Pacas are also the main food of the “Big Cats”, like the Jaguar. The Gibnut, from an environmental standpoint, is the “canary in the coal mine”. Once the Gibnuts are gone, so are the “Big Cats”, and the entire ecosystem of Central America will be thrown out of balance. Needless to say, the result of such an event will have devastating effects for decades to come.