Nestled in a 29 acre sanctuary located only 30 miles west of Belize City, over 125 native Belize animals are helping to educate an audience of the necessity of preserving the natural habitat that has helped to place Belize at the top of the eco-tourism list. Begun in 1983 by Sharon Matola, the Belize City Zoo has gained international recognition for its efforts to teach future generations an attitude of respect and responsibility for the diverse natural habitats and species in Belize.
Visitors walk on a network of raised gravel paths through natural savannahs and transplanted rainforests to different exhibits complemented by humorous, hand-painted signs that call attention to the varying habitats and endangered status of each animal. Those desiring to see theses magnificent creatures including howler monkeys, jaguars, and toucans must be patient and have a keen eye since the thick cover of the vegetation in these large enclosures often makes spotting these animals a bit of a challenge. The interactive informational exhibits along the way and the innovative visitors’ center help inspire children and adults alike to learn about these native creatures and make this zoo one of the most kid-friendly attractions in Belize. A large attraction is the celebration of April the tapir’s birthday, in which kids from all over the country come to help feed her a cake made of vegetable mash!
The Belize Zoo, cooperating also with the Tropical Education and Research Center adjacent to the sanctuary, has experienced great success in raising environmental awareness in Belizeans and visitors alike to work towards respecting and restoring the deteriorating habitats that harbor these spectacular species of wildlife. A small gift shop is also open to the public and visitors will want to bring a hat for the hot midday sun and a bottle of water. The zoo operates daily and is open from 9 am to 5 pm.
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