“Extraordinarily exciting”, “Unbelievable”, “Thrilling up-close animals encounters”, these are only a few of the comments made about our Zoo – one of Belize’s most iconic sights. The Belize Zoo offers an immersive wildlife experience, located just 29 miles west of Belize City and stretching across 29 acres of tropical savanna.
The Beginning of TBZ
One cannot talk about The Belize Zoo without mentioning its founder, Sharon Matola, and her commitment to wildlife conservation. Miss Matola heard comments about mythical beliefs from Belizeans about their animals. The primary example is Belize’s National animal, the Central American tapir which was feared and considered dangerous and was believed to be able to skin you alive with its nose.
In reality, the tapir is a gentle plant-loving creature. Sharon was in a unique position to create a place for “animal adventure and awareness fun” especially for Belizean children. What started in 1983 as a small backyard sanctuary, through diligence and with support from conservation-minded Belizeans, gradually evolved and was relocated to its current site in 1991.
About the Native Animals in The Belize Zoo
Here the wildlife of Belize could be assured a safe and secure future. Moreover, most of the species at the Belize Zoo are officially considered rare or endangered. Here the animals serve as “ambassadors” for their counterparts in the wild; they also play a vital educational role for the visiting public. Belize is home to a myriad of birds, such as the keel-billed Toucan – Belize’s National bird. Its colorful bill is made of keratin, like human fingernails.
This allows the Toucan to fly without being weighed down. He loves to be photographed and will gently take papaya slices from visitors’ hands. A special arranged tour will bring you face to face with the awe-inspiring Scarlet Macaw and you will thrill to the sight of the extremely rare Harpy Eagle. Furthermore, other feathered residents of the zoo include the critically endangered Yellow-Headed Parrot, found only in rare pine savanna. Also, the commonly found Barn Owl has the unflattering reputation as a bird of evil and misery. The zoo has an aggressive educational program to counter these beliefs. In fact, this owl eats more mice and rats than any other animal on the planet!
It is extremely rare to see a Jaguar in the wild; but at the Belize Zoo, you can stand close to one. Actually, the cats in residence were once problem jaguar and were brought here for rehabilitation. They were safely trapped and daily care and training eventually transformed them into people-friendly stars. Also living in their forested enclosures, are four other species of wild cats found in Belize: the ocelot, the margay, the jaguarundi, and the puma.
REPTILES & MORE
“Queen Green” is the name of the boa constrictor, over 7 feet long, is the largest snake species in the country. This non-venomous snake may look powerful and scary but is mild in demeanor. She is ever so comfortable hanging on visitors’ necks. Just the word crocodile is enough to inspire fear! In actuality, they are quite timid. “Rose”, an American Crocodile, was hand raised and gently handled. Her American Crocodile mother laid a clutch of eggs in a polluted drainage ditch. At first, the one containing Rose was considered a bad egg. One day the egg hatched and was brought to the zoo where it was given massive care and attention. Rose is now a “cool croc” and an important ambassador for her species around the world.
This is a must-see adventure. Come and discover the “best little zoo in the world.”