We love animals, furry, scaly, soft or spiky. Animals are fascinating to us and especially to our children. On our way back from Cayo with our visiting friends, the Castenadas, we stopped at the Belize Zoo. When it comes to visiting a zoo, we all expect interesting animals and exhibits and the Belize Zoo definitely scores well on this account.
A zoo is a zoo, right? Wrong. This is one of the most natural zoos that we have ever been to. The animals are all from Belize and it is a great opportunity to actually see all these beautiful jungle animals, as they are quite elusive in the jungle. All animals present in the Belize Zoo are native to the region. They have not been captured from the wild, but rather donated by other zoos, removed from the illegal pet trade, rescued, abandoned, orphaned, or bred in captivity.
10 Reasons to Make the Belize Zoo a Must Do
1. The Animals, of course!
There is nowhere else in Belize that you are going to be able to see some of these magnificent creatures. The Belize Zoo is it. In a span of 2 hours, we saw animals that trek the wild jungles of Belize. The zoo doesn’t have big indoor exhibits, it is all outside making spotting animals easy, even an elusive Puma is fairly easy to spot with a keen eye (okay, admittedly, the zoo helper spotted him for us). And all the animals have names…see how much they are loved!
2. The Belize Zoo has 100% Natural habitats
You won’t find fake concrete that is painted to look like rocks at this zoo. The animals are all native to Belize and therefore, are already in their native environment. There is jungle growing all over them and only occasionally can you see the fencing that is used to contain the animals.
3. It’s on the way to everywhere in Belize.
The Belize Zoo is located between Belize City and Belmopan, so if you are traveling by bus or car, it’s on your way. Whether you are trying to get to the Southern Coast of Belize or to the Cayo District…it’s on the way. It is only about a 30 minute bus ride from the Belize City bus station. Simply tell the bus driver you want to go to the Belize Zoo and they’ll drop you off right in front of it. A short 3 minute walk down the road and you’ll find the one and only ticket booth.
4. A nice, relaxing half day trip – perfect for kids!
It will take you less than 2 hours to see it all. The zoo is big enough to be really interesting, but small enough where even little kids won’t tire walking through all of it. Kids will be entertained trying to spot the animals and running from animal to animal. The zoo is more like going on a hike than walking through a zoo. There are interesting things all over to look at.
5. Smell the stinkiest animals in Belize
We’re not kidding. When you turn the corner, you’ll know you are near the peccaries.
6. Stare in awe at the most beautiful eagle
The Harpy Eagle is incredibly regal to see in person. They just look like royalty. The Harpy Eagle is the largest and most powerful eagle in the world! They have the best eyesight and hearing for catching prey like iguanas, ant eaters, snakes, and rodents.
7. Get up close and personal with a Boa Constrictor
Miss I had the pleasure of nearly kissing a boa constrictor and you can too! Andy, a helper at the zoo, was showing off this Boa and I got to hold and feel her powerful muscles wrap around my wrist. She’s amazingly strong and her skin felt smooth.
8. Spot a Jaguar in Belize
You probably won’t have much luck spotting a Jaguar in the jungles of Belize, but here at the zoo…it’s a guarantee. Junior the Jaguar is famous at the Belize Zoo and he is very friendly. He’s been raised in the zoo and likes to relax in the shade.
The opportunity to play with junior is available for $100 bzd. Kids can feed him, touch him and get a real close up experience. We didn’t do this, but it sure tempted us.
We did see Junior up close during feeding time. Junior was being fed chicken feet and we were real close:
9. Because you are kind and want to donate
The Belize Zoo solely relies on entrance fees and the sale of gift items and snacks to run the zoo. They are barely making it. They receive no funding from the government, none. And the people that work there are sweet, knowledgeable and so super friendly, you’ll want to donate even more. Even if it’s just a few dollars, it REALLY helps.
10. You can stay overnight at the TEC
The Zoo has a Tropical Education Center (TEC) that has dorms, cabins and pond houses. The different style lodging is connected together with trails and we felt like we were camping. We stayed in a pond house, a fully screened-in, raised cabin situated in a private setting among beautiful pine and palm trees. Our cabin had 2 queen beds, a little kitchenette and a bathroom with hot and cold water. It also had a huge screened in deck that wrapped around 2 sides of the house. The cost of staying here ($60-80 US for 2 people) includes a delicious dinner and breakfast, so you don’t have to worry about leaving this forest paradise. It is about a 3 minute ride to the zoo which they will provide.
Admission: $15 US for Adults and $5 US for Children.
Belize residents get a discount: $5 bzd for Adults and $1 bzd for Children.
Before you get your panties in a bunch about the discrepancy in admission fees, realize that you probably make 20-50x the salary of a typical Belize resident. Plus, by the end of your zoo tour, you will more than likely be so impressed by the zoo, that on top of your entrance fee, you’ll also make a donation like we did.
Best time to go: in the afternoon. There are school groups that occasionally visit the zoo, but they are usually gone by noon. So, if you want the zoo to yourself, like we did, go in the afternoon.
The Zoo also has a nighttime tour that came highly recommended. Most of the animals are nocturnal and a night tour (starts at 6 pm) is a good way to see them during their most active part of the day. Since we had children that are usually sleeping by 7 pm, we didn’t do the nocturnal tour, but we were able to see every animal during the day.
Contact: Belize Zoo website: http://www.BelizeZoo.org
Oh, and don’t forget to Donate…please.