Kinkajou at the Belize Zoo
Getting away from it all in Belize is easy. The sun, the sand, the rainforest – and the plethora of
exotic animals! Although Belize is a relatively small country, it has an amazing variety of wildlife
living in a wide range of habitats. The country’s savannahs and lowlands are home to rare waterfowl, its
forests provide a refuge for tapirs (the national animal of Belize), pumas and numerous tropical birds
(like the keel billed toucan), while the mountainous regions ensure a niche for elusive jaguars and other
There are approximately 145 species of mammals living in Belize as well as at least 139 species of reptiles
and amphibians, including over 56 species of snakes. Belize is also a birder’s paradise, with over 500 species of rare and beautiful birds thriving in its many distinct habitats (check out our birdwatching in Belize page for package details). And yet, not every traveler will be able to see all of these – but you can see at least 125 different animals native to Belize at the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center, which was started in 1983, as a last ditch effort to provide a home for a collection of wild animals which had been used in making documentary films about tropical forests.
One of my personal favorites, though, is the kinkajou. The kinkajou, known as the “night walker” in Belize,
is a nocturnal animal which lives among the upper canopy of the tropical forest so most of us would not have the opportunity to see one up close if not for this amazing zoo.
The kinkajou is extremely agile and fast, traveling quickly along the tree tops, jumping noisily from tree to
tree. The long prehensile tail is used to balance and hold on while traveling among the tree tops.
These little animals, native to Central and South America, seem to be a cross between a monkey (the tail!)
and a raccoon (the eyes!) and … well, a small child! Each kinkajou has its own “personality” and they tend
to be playful though there are some “old souls” among them and you can just see it in their big and expressive eyes. Their fur is unbelievably soft and their teeth are unbelievably SHARP and dangerous. If a kinkajou is threatened, cornered or if it’s baby is approached – WATCH OUT! Mama kinks are extremely protective, even of weaned babies.
They are generally playful and fun animals who love to be in “community” with each other. They are also somewhat precocious and very, very curious – getting in to everything!