International Society For Endangered Cats

A Voice For The Wild Cats of the World

Wild Cats at Belize Zoo

Located about 30 miles south of Belize City, tucked into the lush landscape of the untouched, natural beauty of Belize, one beholds the Shangri-La of zoos.  The Belize Zoo has exhibits built into the natural landscape and it appears that this, in turn, leads to content animals.  Five wild cat species are represented; the Jaguar, Puma, Jaguarundi, Ocelot and Margay, as well as some incredible species of birds, specifically the Harpy Eagle and the Crested Eagle.

At the time of my visit, there were two Jaguarundi.  One seemed to enjoy rolling in some loose, dry dirt while the other cat was on the move, chirping as it went along.   The Jaguarundi is often called the weasel-cat, given its slender, slight frame and sloped face but that description doesn’t do it justice.  No offense to weasels but the Jaguarundi’s agile gait is a clear indicator of the athletic nature of this cat. Its solid fur may not have the colorful palette of the Tiger or the Ocelot but it is beautiful nonetheless.

I am sure one could see thousands of Jaguars and still be amazed by their power and beauty.  Having only see a few from a distance at US zoos, you can imagine how incredible it was to be so close to a Jaguar as the Belize Zoo allows.  From the thick whiskers to the large paws, the extraordinary characteristics of the Jaguar never fail to invoke awe.

Unfortunately, for photo taking purposes, the Ocelot and the Margay were both enjoying afternoon siestas so I did not get see their behaviors, other than sleeping.  The Ocelot took a nap in a sunny area of its enclosure and the Margay, very characteristically, slept on a branch of a tree.

The Puma at the Belize Zoo was a stoic beauty that let out a little “mew” when I approached its enclosure.  Whenever I see a Puma, I am always surprised by the length of its tail and the quiet, reclusive, almost fragile nature of its eyes.

One thing you don’t realize until you have been to the Belize Zoo is how close you can actually get to the animals.  In fact, there are signs throughout the entire facility warning against placing your hands and fingers inside the enclosures (as well as hand made signs providing information on the animals).  Anyone traveling to Central America should visit the Belize Zoo because of its impressive grounds and amazing native animals.  You  won’t be disappointed.

Ivy Schnepp

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One response to “Wild Cats at Belize Zoo

  1. mary williams January 6, 2010 at 1:31 am

    I enjoyed your sharing of your experience with the cats at the Belize Zoo. The Cats were beautiful and well taken care of. Anyone that visits Belize would want to visit the Zoo.

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