San Ignacio Travel Blog› entry 14 of 19 › view all entries
Here we say goodbye to some of the Group who leave us here. The rest of us cross the border into Belize. Our first stop is the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Centre. Started in 1983 by a group of film makers in an effort to save a group of animals that had been used to film a series of wildlife documenteries.
It was quickly realized that its Belizean visitors were unfamiliar with the different species of wildlife which shared their country. This very aspect fomented the commitment to develop the Zoo into a wildlife education center.Now an area of 29 acres of tropical savanna the Zoo exhibits over 150 animals, representing over 45 species, all native to Belize. The zoo keeps animals which were orphaned, rescued, born at the zoo, rehabilitated animals, or sent to The Belize Zoo as donations from other zoological institutions.
The Zoo believes that by bringing the people of Belize closer to the animals which are their natural heritage, they will feel proud of these special resources, and want to protect them for future generations. Over 10,000 school children every year visit as part of the progressive education programs, and popular zoo events include: Birthday parties for April the Tapir, Junior Buddy the Jaguar, and Panama the Harpy Eagle; summer camps; and Student Career Training.
After our visit we make are way to San Ignacio for our overnight stop. San Ignacio and sister-town, Santa Elena make up Belize's second largest urban area. The two towns are separated by the Macal River and Belize's only suspension bridge, the one-lane Hawksworth Bridge ,built in 1949.
Together the towns have a combined population of about 20,000 including: Creole, Mestizo (Spanish-Maya), Lebanese, Chinese, Mennonite, Maya and other cultures.