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Published: January 21st 2016
The Belize TEC/Zoo is of pride to Belizeans and increasingly integral to their primary education and national multi-ethnic culture. Unique in many ways:
As a zoo, it exclusively supports and cares for indigenous Belizean widlife in their natural habitat: this of course includes all their national icons, as in the Keel-billed Toucan and Baird’s TapirAs a touristic experience it’s a beautiful, 2-hour walk “amongst-anima-life” and a fun educational experience; targeting kids but entertaining adults. Cleverly landscaped and meticulously maintained.It’s an animal rehab centre, where compromised Belizean animals are brought in (especially by the Park Services) to be rehabituated; some don’t make it and stay in vast porous enclosures, a sort of animal country club – there’s now 15 jaguars who prefer to call the zoo their “home”It’s tropical animal husbandry research and veterinary centreThe adjoining TEC Lodge, set in a parkland and nature trails, is comprised of cabanas, dorms
and central dining; it’s patronized by international academia and tourists interested in protecting wildlife and the environment.It’s operationally self-sustaining (but seeks extra capital funding for tropical animal research, a new animal/vet Clinic and land rights to assemble a wildlife corridor through Belize)
For me the the Belize Zoo and TEC was a lovely 2-day treat starting last Sunday noon when coincidently I was welcomed by Sellso (phonetic spelling), the ZOO/TEC general manager who was filling in for someone sick; he gave me the grand tour and put me in one of the private cabanas (the dorm was chock-a-block with veterinary graduates from Cornell university). Sweet. Over breakfasts and dinners met some very caring professionals in wildlife and natural habitat management and political strategy – also some really funny tourists.
In the afternoon had my 2-hour zoo daylight experience, and after dinner, joined a night-time tour of the zoo; a lot of the animals are nocturnal. The highlight was feeding all the different cats through the fence by flash light – the silent black and spotted jaguars, puma, ocelot and
margays. The best was the ravenously purring Ocelot who just hung to the side of the fence throughout it’s loud feeding. More louder noise soon joined in from an orchestra of howler monkeys in the jungle.
And so off by bus to San Ignacio and the pyramids.
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