Fodor's Expert Review Belize Zoo
Turn a sharp corner on the jungle trail, and suddenly you're face-to-face with a jaguar, the largest cat in the Western Hemisphere. The big cat growls a deep rumbling threat. You jump back, thankful that a strong but inconspicuous fence separates you and the jaguar. Along with jaguars, the zoo's nearly 50 species of native Belize mammals include the country's four other wild cats: the puma, margay, ocelot, and jaguarundi. The zoo also has a tapir, a relative of the horse and rhino known to locals as the mountain cow; it is Belize's national animal. You'll also see jabiru storks, a harpy eagle, scarlet macaws, howler monkeys, crocodiles, and many snakes, including the fer-de-lance. The zoo has an excellent gift shop. Come early in the day to avoid cruise ship groups and plan to stay for at least two hours; the Zoo opens at 8:30.