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Ethnozoology of the Classic Maya:
Animals of Maya Art, Iconography and Epigraphy
Tapirs, jaguars, crocodiles, pelicans, Muscovy ducks, hawks, spider monkeys and two species of peccary are all animals found in Classic Maya art, iconography, and epigraphy.
To study these animals out in the wild is a challenge. For example, in 52 years being in Guatemala, I have never seen a tapir in the wild. But at AutoSafari Chapin it was possible to see over 15 tapir in a single day (plus we got to meet them in person, as you can see in the picture).
So if you are studying Maya art, iconography, hieroglyphic writing and want to learn what is so much more realistic than being on-line on in a university library, to get eye to eye with the pertinent birds and animals, consider the AutoSafari Chapin.
Here is Dr. Nicholas Hellmuth with the macaws at AutoSafari Chapin, Guatemala.
Macaws have a beautiful colors in their feathers.
You can also see spider monkeys, jaguars, puma, ocelot, peccary, white tailed deer, crocodiles and other native Guatemalan species.
They also have lions, zebras, and other things for tourists.
Crocodile acutus jaw at AutoSafari Chapin.
Deer (Odocoileus virginianus), are found pasturing freely in the park.
Auto Safari Chapin
Chapin is the nickname for Guatemalans. They call themselves Chapines. Auto Safari means that you drive through the area just like if you were in Africa on safari. There are, however, areas you can get out of your car and see other animals in walled areas (jaguars, tapir, for example).
There are plenty of web sites that show you maps of how to get to Auto Safari Chapin. It is in the Department of Escuintla, about two hours from Guatemala City (depending on how much traffic you get caught in leaving Guatemala City). There are some hours of the day, entering (in the morning) or leaving (in the evening) when it can take 90 minutes to get in, or out, of Guatemala City itself.
Contact info for Auto Safari Chapin
Open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30am to 5:00pm
KM 87.5 Highway to Taxisco, Escuintla, Guatemala
Phone at the park: (502) 5517-1705
Central office address: 14 Calle 8-71 Zona 10, Guatemala, Centro América 01010
Telephone: (502) 2222-5858
The park is not surrounded by hotels, since most people continue on to spend the night at Monterrico. There is a 30 minute ferry ride down the Canal de Chiquilumilla from where the highway ends. But if you plan to be at AutoSafari several days, then you would need to stay closer (since the ferry ride takes a long time back and forth).