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Tony Rath's

    Places to See > Belize Zoo

In 1983 upon completion of a film called "Path of the Rain Gods," the movie's production assistant, Sharon Matola, found herself with quite a few nearly tame animals that the movie had featured. Fearing they were no longer capable of surviving the wilds, Sharon set about arranging other accommodations for them. From these humble beginnings, Matola and her staff have built a world-class zoo that is thought to be the best of its kind in the Americas, outside the U.S.

Keel Billed Toucan at the Belize Zoo

Unlike most zoos that cage their animals, Belize Zoo is organized as a "walk through Belize," featuring a trail that takes you through the assortment of Belizean terrains. From pinelands to the forest ridge, the rainforest, lagoons, river forest and the forest edge, visitors are able to see the animals housed in expansive enclosures that emulate their natural habitats.

Spider Monkey at the Belize Zoo

The zoo offers the opportunity to see most of Belize's native wildlife and bird species. You can get up close to jaguar, as well as the jaguarundi, ocelot, margay and puma. The Baird's tapir, known locally as the mountain cow, peccaries, howler monkeys and agouti as well as a variety of snakes and crocodiles can be seen and sometimes even touched. Luminary birds include several varieties of toucan, parrots, macaws and the incredible jabiru stork. Interestingly, all the animals in the zoo have been given names.

Actively involved in conservation and preservation, the zoo also features a Tropical Education Center that offers schools and college groups various learning programs. The center has trails, observation decks, classroom facilities, a library and dormitory facilities for those on extended stays.

Tapir at the Belize Zoo

Just a short 30-mile journey west of Belize City, a bus will drop you off 200 meters from the Gerald Durrell visitor center that has a wonderful display of Belize's ecosystems. Also featured are selected drawings and artwork from over 10,000 local schoolchildren that love to spend time here.

Other Things to See
Altun Ha Belize City
Belize Zoo Baboon Sanctuary
Crooked Tree Gales Point
Monkey Bay Offshore Cayes

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