I wasn’t too sure beforehand; a zoo? I hadn’t been to one in over a decade for lack of desire to participate in cruelty to animals. But this one sounded different. Started in 1983, the Belize Zoo was a last effort to save the 17 animals left from the filming of a nature documentary. Yeah, even the good guys can screw things up. And so the animals were rehabilitated and given their new home.
Since then, the zoo has rescued many animals in need from the wild, and placed them in this lovely zoo where all the animals are in their natural habitats. No, not like elephants in Edmonton. This place sounded legit.
We woke up early (as per usual) and headed to the bus stop. Without a clue which bus to get, we started asking each one if they went to the Belize Zoo. $4 later and an hour or so from San Ignacio, and we were there. With the zoo entrance fee at only $15, it was much cheaper to do it this way than with a tour. Plus, I quite like wandering around on my own.
The zoo was a giant wow from the get go. We saw the national animal of Belize, the tapir, for the first time, and gazed at everything from huge vultures and eagles to monkeys swinging from the trees. The highlights, of course, we saved for the end. Although we saw many kitties along the way (read: Ocelots. Pumas. Other vicious kitties we wanted to cuddle), it was the jaguars that blew us away the most. They lay there unmoving, careless of our presence, yet majestic (and begging for cuddles from me, I just knew it). No, mom, I didn’t cuddle a jaguar, don’t worry.
Of course Belize had one more epic gem of an animal to offer us: the toucan – Belize’s national bird (have you noticed that Belize has the best national everything? Their national dish is rice and beans! Life is sweet!) Neither of us having ever seen one before, we were excited. And when we found out we could pay an extra $5 to go and meet Runt, the blind-in-one-eye rescued toucan, and feed him, we were on it. I’m not going to lie, there were some toucan selfies.
In all, I can’t say enough about how awesome the Belize Zoo is – seriously, check it out if you’re in the area, especially if you’re an animal lover!