Friday, June 16, 2017

6-16-2017 The Belize Zoo Tour

Everyone raves about The Belize Zoo.  We did know that it houses only rescued, native Belizean animals that cannot (for
various reasons) be released back into the wild, so it seems to be one that we can support. Cara thought her mother would like
it, and we had never been, so it seemed like someplace we had to visit.

In researching plans for her mother's visit, Cara found that the Zoo offers a Director's VIP Tour. That's where the Zoo founder and director, Sharon Matola, personally takes you on a tour of the zoo, and you get to get up close and personal with several animals.

While we waited for Sharon to arrive we were greeted by a man with this large boa. He asked
if we wanted to hold her, and Deedra jumped at the chance.

Cara at one time had a red tailed boa constrictor, so she wasn't scared either.

Sharon arrived and off we went.

King vulture

This deer lacks an enzyme or something that lets the antlers molt properly, so the layers just keep building up for him.

These are the same kind of deer we have in Indiana.

You get to go inside the enclosure with one of the tapirs and feed him. (It's definitely a him - can you see his "parts" hanging
down to the ground? That came out as soon as we started feeding him his favorite food.)

We stopped and fed the other tapirs over the fence.

Next we threw bananas over the fence to the spider monkeys.

On the ground the spider monkeys were walking and running upright.

In the trees the spider monkeys were fast and agile.

Deedra feeding seeds to Charlie, a Scarlet macaw.

In the cage behind is this guy's brother, George, and he was curious about our interaction with his sibling.

This was the only non-native animal in the zoo, but the bird needed to be rescued, and Sharon
could not refuse.

Can't remember what kind of parrot this was with the blue head.

A red-lored parrot in the front.

Coatimundi (aka "quash")

A troop of coatimundi like to all be covered in the same scent so that they can recognize each
other. However, they can't produce their own scent, so they must find something in nature to use.
Here at the zoo, apparently they have chosen a men's perfume called "Bod Man" as their
favorite, so Sharon would come up to the fence and say "Bod Man is here", and the quash all
come running. She sprinkled some of the perfume on the ground, and they dove in, rubbing the
scent all over themselves.

There was even one albino coatimundi.


We got to go inside with Panama, the Harpy eagle, and feed him.

He looks intimidating, but he was quite gentle taking the food (rat meat). He later roused for Deedra (shaking out his
feathers), and Sharon said that's a sign he's happy and likes you.

Next door was the female Harpy eagle, but she's not nearly so friendly, so you don't go inside with her.

The female is bigger than the male. The zoo tried to release this one back into the wild, but she
kept coming back, so they let her stay.

Crocodile (American crocodile, we think - the larger of the two species here)

Junior Buddy, the jaguar

Notice the little cage behind the logs? We'll get back to that in a moment...

Yes, you get to go inside that little cage in the jaguar's habitat for an incredible experience!

Not only do you see him closer than you've ever seen a big cat...

He also kisses (licks) your forehead!

Jabiru stork

This bird is huge, though our pictures don't show that well.

Runt, the Keel-billed Toucan (the national bird of Belize)

We got to go inside with him and feed him watermelon!

Apparently they found an abandoned egg, and this crocodile hatched from it, so Sharon raised this crocodile from birth.

Cara wasn't so sure about this at first...

But this crocodile was truly super docile and liked being petted.

He would close his eyes when you petted his head or front feet.

Crested guan

Barn owl

The feathers were super soft and downy.

He had several toys, but apparently this was his favorite.



Another spotted Jaguar

This doesn't normally happen in nature, but these wild vultures came to live here voluntarily, and the peccary apparently
decided to go along with it.

The zoo grounds are really beautiful and lush.


Pelicans - these guys were both missing an eye.

Spotted jaguars

These are actually two males living together, which does not normally happen in the wild.

At the end Sharon signed one of her books about Junior Buddy the Jaguar for Cara's mother. Sharon took her time with us and
seemed to really enjoy the tour as well. We highly recommend this tour if you get the chance.

Below is a long 18 minute video that is little cuts of each of the animals we saw on the Directors Tour.

Cara loved this quote on the wall at the zoo.

After the zoo we headed to our hotel room at Black Orchid Resort, which is along the river in a village called Burrell Boom.
We saw howler monkeys the last time we stayed here, and again we were not disappointed.

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