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Different as Day and Night

The Belize Zoo, by Norm

rain 26 °C

The Belize Zoo was high on the list of things to see on our trip. The 'Best Little Zoo in the World' is actually a rehabilitation and conservation effort. The Zoo exhibits indigenous animals only once it has been determined that they cannot be released back into the wild. Many of the animals were rescued from road accidents or as orphaned young. They run a Problem Jaguar Rehabilitation program to relocate nuisance animals away from populated areas to an area they will have a greater chance at survival.

We saw cats, tapirs, monkeys, and numerous birds and rodents (Shona's favourite!).

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Fraser was excited to see Junior Buddy, a jaguar born into captivity who was ineligible for release into the wild. One of the first Early Reader books that Fraser loved was a several year old hand-me-down book about Junior Buddy's birth and first year of life at the Belize Zoo. After reading the book to Fraser at bedtime again and again and again... we wondered if Junior Buddy may still be alive and staying in the public viewing area of the zoo when we came to visit. How excited we all were when a georgeous adult male jaguar came sauntering out from behind a tree in the enclosure and the guide said "hello Junior Buddy!". He acts as a giant playful housecat that likes to lick bald people's heads (you could sit in cage inside his enclosure and have your head licked) and does somersaults. He did not fail to entertain us.

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What made the difference at the Zoo was the night tour. Guides from the Zoo took us through the grounds at night to see the nocturnal animals. There were several animals that were active and visible that were curled up during our day trip. The animals know that the zookeepers give them snacks at night, so they came right up to the fence for feeding and a closer look. The guide also howled for a response from the howler monkeys, who made noise the rest of the night. Mirren held a boa constrictor, Ailsa fed and petted a tapir, and Fraser got to see Junior Buddy the jaguar up close.

We spent the night at the Tropical Education Center, run by the Zoo. We stayed in a pond house over water that is home to turtles and alligators. Mirren bravely and adamantly slept the night in a hammock in the screen-enclosed porch but did not see any alligators. (Shona did not sleep that night.)

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This place was so impressive. We met a few people who were living and interning at the Tropical Education Centre. Ailsa is already planning her return trip when she is their age.

Next stop, the Beach!

Posted by Salsa Sojourns 20:56 Archived in Belize

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