Thursday, February 9, 2012

Belize Zoo

The Cayes along the coast of Belize are amazing. Would love to spend weeks exploring them with my own sailboat. Probably why Leonardo DiCaprio has his own island here. But since,  we have a time budget, we left the Cayes and headed to Belize City to catch a bus inland.

 It's a shame Belize City doesn't have more to do. It's located right on the ocean. But everyone I have talked to has said to just jump on a bus and get out of there, as fast as you can.   The store front shops only open up when cruise ships arrive, the rest of the town looks as if it's falling apart.  

So that's what we did,  we meandered our way from the dock to the bus station, and caught a bus heading to the capital of Belmopan. The buses are old American school buses, painted green. The seats, all ripped up and barely could hold my weight. Last time I was in one of these, I had a school bus driver  in
Junior High, always yelling at me to keep my feet out of the aisle.   I would reply, "Don, my legs are too long, my knees don't fit in the seats."   " Then cut them off"   He always replied. 

On the bus, I had the same problem trying to fit in the seat. Except this time, I didn't have a bus driver yelling at me, since people were standing up in the aisle, packed in like farm animals. 

 Along the way, I was entertained by a true Bushmen.  I could barely hear him or understand him, since Reggae music was blasting on the speakers  and he talked in broken english.    Besides him telling me he was a bushmen, showing me his swollen gnarly hands, and his home made drink, which he gladly offered me to try.   How could I tell he was a bushmen?   Well,  he showed me his shotgun, and shotgun shells, that he had on the bus with him, and talked about how he has to shoot deer for food, and crocs, so they don't eat his dog.    It was pretty ironic, that the place I got off the bus at, was the Belize Zoo.

It's no secret that I have  the biggest soft spot for animals. I've travelled enough now to know first hand just how fast the the poor animals around the world are getting hammered. It's no different in Central America.

I read alot of great stuff about the Belize Zoo. I'm not a fan of animals in cages or enclosures. But I will always take time to support financially, a program that is actually making a difference in a country. Zoos around the world are great places to educate people about conservation and get them up close to animals. In poor countries it's the best way to convince locals that saving the animals is best for their country in the long run.   Sometimes it takes seeing a wild animal up close to capture your heart for the rest of your life.

While Belize has protected 40 percent of it's forests, which sounds great on paper, it doesn't stop locals from poaching on those lands.  Just like the bushmen I met on the bus.   Where ever you have mouths to feed, you will have someone willing to poach. And programs helping  to take in injured, orphaned, or problem animals at least gives them a fighting chance.

The Belize Zoo, is supposed to be one of the best in Central America. You have to come with an open mind. This isn't the San Diego Zoo, but you do get an up close experience with animals you would have a small chance of seeing in the wild.

The Jaguars were active and walking inches from you, the cougar was standing next to the fence, looking as if he was waiting to be let out, some smaller cats were standing up on the fence allowing you to stroke their paws.

The highlight for me,  was seeing a pair of harpy eagles. One of the largest eagles in the world. I would love to someday photograph these eagles in the wild, before they are extinct.   The females are massive.


  1. Belize doesn't have cougars or leoprds

  2. Thanks for catching my typo. Not sure why I said leopard. Wasn't the first time I've had a typo and won't be the last.