Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Belize: A Country that Cares for it's Animals and Ecosytems

Belize:
 A Country that Cares for it's Animals and Ecosystems
This summer I (The Science Quest Kid's mom) went to Belize as part of my Master's Program in environmental science through Miami University of Ohio. This was an amazing experience that I learned so much from.  The main theme of the trip was that the people of Belize care for their plants and animals and are making great strides to protect their small but amazingly diverse country.

The Belize Zoo: The Best Little Zoo in the World

We spent several days at the Belize Zoo.  This quote by Gandhi is one of my favorites and it can be found at the front entrance of the zoo.  From what I learned visiting Belize is that it's a  pretty great nation!  People seem genuinely concerned about preserving animals found in Belize!  Let's take a look at some of the animals at the Belize Zoo.

 


Jaguarundi:

We spent several days at The Belize Zoo and I was fascinated at the number of animals I had never seen before.  Have you heard of a jaguarundi? 


It's from the cat family and it looks like it's part cat part weasel .  Jaguarundi is native to Belize. They are important to the environment and the economy because they keep the number of rats, mice and rabbits down. Did you know that they can jump 6.5 feet in the air to catch a bird. 

Jaguars:

This is Junior Buddy the Jaguar.  He is an ambassador at the zoo.  Ambassador means he represents all the wild jaguars in Belize.  He has an important job, he educates people about the importance of jaguars in Belize.  Did you know that jaguars used to live in parts of the United States, like Arizona?  We don't have any jaguars left in the United States due to hunting and deforestation.  In Belize, however, the people understand how important these big cats are and they are protected from hunting. 

Tapirs the National Animal of Belize:

These guys are adorable, but they have a problem in Belize!  They get hit by cars on the highway at night.  I met a really cool scientist who works at the zoo named Celso Poot who came up with a plan to save the Tapirs.  He put up Tapir crossing signs like this one:

       

along the highway and talked to the local people about their speed and how important it is to protect the Tapirs.  The local people love Tapirs and now because of Celso's signs and his work with the people there are fewer Tapirs getting hit by cars!



The Community Baboon Sanctuary:



This little cutie isn't a baboon at all, he's actually  a black howler monkey.  Baboon is Creole for howler monkey. Creole is one of the 3 languages most people in Belize speak, the other 2  languages are English and Spanish. 

The Community Baboon Sanctuary is an organization led by women.  They work very hard to ensure that the howler monkeys are safe and well taken care of. As a result, there are thousands of howler monkeys living near and co-existing with the people of Belize.  
Here is a video about The Community Baboon Sanctuary

In fact, one night I stayed with a host mom who lived close to the monkeys and if you listened closely you could hear the monkeys from her house! Here is a picture of me and my host mom: 

and here is a video of the sounds howler monkeys make! 





Tobacco Caye: 

This was my favorite part of the trip.  I have always loved the ocean and we spent a LOT of time in it during our visit to this tiny little island called a Caye.  Did you know that Belize has the largest barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere. Belize has banned any and all oil exploration in their ocean waters. This is another example of the Belizian people caring more about the animals and their ecosystems than they do about money that oil might bring to their country!

Here is the public service announcement that Belize ran to show they cared about the Ocean and didn't want to see it ruined by oil companies:



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