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Day 4: Goodbye Duplooys, Hello Jungle!

July 29, 2012

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From Jennifer R., Kathy, Deb, & Carlene:

With mixed emotions we said goodbye to DuPlooys and its wonderful staff. We were sad to leave this beautiful place but excited for the next adventure. We bumped down the road for the last time headed for The Belize Zoo.  After reading about Sharon Matola, “the zoo lady” and her inspirational story, it was an honor to meet her in person.  We were extremely lucky to take a tour with Sharon as our guide and see a few things behind the scenes.  We were able to get up close and personal with some jaguars and a few people even had their heads licked!  There are no words to describe the feeling when you look into the eyes of this majestic creature.  We made some new friends including April the tapir, Junior Buddy the jaguar, Happy the barn owl, and Panama the harpy eagle.  We even got to meet Lucky Boy, the black jaguar who is lucky to be alive and lucky to now be in the nurturing hands of Sharon.  It was a truly amazing experience.  After lunch we headed towards Belmopan to visit the open air market.  Many of us tasted and purchased fruits and vegetables we had never seen before.  Tonight we learned about the vegetables and fruits of Belize from our amazing Belizean teachers Carlene and Andre.  Ending the day with a swim at the Blue Hole was awesome!  We went down a flight of stairs and were greeted with a picturesque scene of aqua pool with a vegetation hill as backdrop. The coolest part of it was that this pool was fed by an underground river which flows into a cave!  I can still picture Olympic-quality synchronized swimming moves.  After a very quick swim we headed to the Jaguar Sanctuary in the Cockscomb Basin.  We arrived in darkness and looked around our simple accommodations.  After dinner we went out for a night hike to a pond where red-eyed tree frogs were found.  We turned off our lights and stood in silence and darkness and listened to the orchestra of music performed by the tree frogs.  Exhausted, we headed to our bunk beds using only head lamps and flashlights because there was no electricity.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. July 30, 2012 10:11 am

    Reblogged this on NC Museum of Natural Sciences Blogs.

  2. Gavindra Bharrat permalink
    July 30, 2012 5:29 pm

    Some of the animals you saw look exotic to the area and exclusive to the rest of the world. Are there any attempts to repopulate the area with the endangered animals? And what precautions are taken besides setting aside and reserves and law? Why do not scientists try to cross-breed the endangered species with other organisms of the same family?

    • August 4, 2012 9:02 am


      The Howler monkey’s are a great example of successful reintroduction of an animal to an area where they were wiped out. In 1985 the Bermudian Landing Howler Monkey Sanctuary was established. The population of this animal grew there as they were provided with plenty of habitat with which to live. A separate population of the Howler located in another area of Belize was hit hard by malaria. The groups supporting the sanctuary (local farmers, Belize Audubon, & WWF) had the wisdom to relocate some of the Howler individuals to the hard hit area to introduce new genes into the population as well as healthy specimens. Today the two groups are doing well. Andy recall in order for species to cross-breed successfully they must be within the same species & on rare occasion same genus.

      Ms. Tracie Roseberry

  3. Bhavika permalink
    August 3, 2012 6:14 am

    This is Bhavika. Why was there no electricity in Jaguar sanctuary?

  4. Bhavika permalink
    August 3, 2012 6:20 am

    Why were there so many heads licked by Jaguars?

  5. Mattie Vorder Bruegge permalink
    August 5, 2012 5:55 pm

    Are the animals that you met at the Belize Zoo very domesticated or at least human friendly and might this be a problem when they are reintroduced to the wild?

    • lizbaird permalink
      August 6, 2012 1:04 pm

      Hi Mattie
      Many of the animals in the zoo were “pets” before their owners realized that it is illegal to keep wild animals in captivity. The trainers and keepers work closely with the animals, making certain they are well cared for with appropriate nutrition and interactions. They do not intend to release these animals back into the wild. If they have a successful breeding program with a specific species they might be able to release some individuals, but the majority of these animals will continue to serve as ambassadors for their species. They will help visitors not only from Belize, but all over the world learn about the amazing diversity of life found in Belize

  6. Shawn witter permalink
    August 8, 2012 2:01 pm

    what types of fruit were they and how did they compare to other fruits previously tasted? also were the sounds from the tree frogs compare to the sounds of frog from other habitats or were they different?

  7. Christian Robinson permalink
    August 19, 2012 6:51 pm

    You mentioned an underground river that flows into a cave. What types of species might you expect to live and thrive in such an enviroment as this cave? What factors make this cave an ideal environment for these species? If they’re are species here that are found in other such environments besides caves, what adaptations were required by the species to survive here?

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