The Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center were 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.
Shortly after the backyard "zoo" began, it was quickly realized that its Belizean visitors were unfamiliar with the different species of wildlife that shared their country. This very aspect fomented the commitment to develop the little zoo into a dynamic wildlife education center.
Today, The Belize Zoo is settled upon 29 acres of tropical savanna and exhibits over 125 animals, all native to Belize. The zoo keeps animals who were either orphaned, born at the zoo, rehabilitated animals, or sent to The Belize Zoo as gifts from other zoological institutions.
A visit to the zoo is the best way to get an introduction to the animals of Belize, and to understand why it is important to protect the habitats that sustain them. The Belize Zoo believes that by bringing the people of Belize closer to the animals which are their natural heritage, they will feel proud of these special resources, and want to protect them for future generations.
The zoo receives over 10,000 schoolchildren every year as part of the progressive education programs, and popular zoo events include: April the Tapir's birthday party; summer camps; Science Fair; Teacher Training; and Student Career Training. The Belize Zoo is headquarters for the Tapir Specialist Group/IUCN/SSC, and also maintains an active captive breeding program for the green iguana, Iguana iguana.