The Wonderland that is the Belize Zoo!

The best little zoo in the world keeps getting better!

Our attention was drawn to a recent Trip Advisor review about one of our all time favourite Belizean attractions – The Belize Zoo.

After reading these latest glowing comments, under the heading, “Best zoo I’ve even been to” our eyes wandered down the list, and we couldn’t help but be struck with how positive every review we read was.

Here are a few of the other headings:

“Excellent Small Zoo”

“Must-see if in Belize!”

“Totally Worth It!”

“Awesome animals! Go in the morning!”

“Don’t miss this wonderful hour or two — be sure to get Junior kisses, too!”

They all go on in this vein, which isn’t surprising, given that visitor ratings are overwhelmingly “Excellent”, followed by a few “Very Good” with a tiny portion of “Average”.

The “Poor” and “Terrible” fields were empty.

That doesn’t surprise us in the least. Founded in 1983 by Sharon Matola with the absolute best intentions of providing a sanctuary for animals, and having grown slowly over time as a labour of love, the Belize Zoo is all about the welfare of the animals, and educating the public about Belize’s extraordinarily diverse and beautiful wildlife.

And it shows.

Belize-Zoo

toucan-belize-zoo

We haven’t been to a happier, healthier animal sanctuary, and the wildlife, from the stately jaguars to playful otters and monkeys, the majestic harpy eagle and easy-going tapir all seem comfortable in their surroundings, and the staff’s genuine love and commitment is obvious.

Where else can you get so up close and personal to such a range of exotic animals? After spending countless hours at the Belize Zoo and watching it grow over the years, we’ve never grown tired of the experience, and watching the look on the faces of first time visitors is priceless.

As an aside, the Belize Zoo was the first nature site in Belize to become wheelchair accessible and disability-friendly, showing that they extend the same care and compassion to guests as they do the their animal charges. We think that’s pretty cool and very commendable.

Here’re a few more facts:

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The Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Centre sits on some 29 acres of Belizean savannah and is home to over 170 native Belizean animals, representing some 45 different species, many of which were rescued by zoo staff or were orphaned in the wild or born at the zoo.

Over 65,000 people visit the zoo each year, including 15,000 Belizean students who learn to value, protect and take pride in their nation’s wildlife.

In addition to other activities, the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Foundation also sponsors or is associated with a range of education and conservation programs, such as the Belize Harpy Eagle Restoration Project, the Problem Jaguar Rehabilitation Program (helping Belize’s jaguars to peacefully coexist with humans and livestock) as well as internships and a range of other initiatives.

As with Chaa Creek’s Belize Natural History Centre, Chaa Creek Cares and our other projects, the Belize Zoo shows that true eco-tourism contributes to society and the environment while giving visitors the chance to reconnect with the nature. We all believe that the more people become familiar with the natural world, the more they’ll come to appreciate and protect it.

So hats off to Sharon and the Belize Zoo for the countless hours of joy you continue to provide for so many people, and for the help you’ve given to so many of our animal friends. You’re helping to prove that eco-tourism can – and does – actually contribute to the world around us.

And that’s something we can all take pride in.

“The happiest man is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship” 
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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