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Belize Wildlife Refuges

Wildlife preserves, refuges and sanctuaries in Belize.

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Belize is a small country with a large heart, and fortunately, a great deal of it is dedicated to preserving the county's extraordinary biodiversity. Approximately 40% of the country is protected, maintaining homes for Belize wildlife like the tapir, the toucan, the jaguar, and many other endangered species. Here's a selection of some of Belize's largest and lushest wildlife sanctuaries, where travelers just might catch a glimpse of these remarkable creatures, while helping protect them as well.

1. Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary & Jaguar Preserve

That's right -- jaguars! The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary & Jaguar Preserve in southern Belize was the world's first wildlife preserve dedicated to protecting these elusive cats (and a whole host of other species). Pictured, a set of jaguar tracks I saw when I stayed at the nearby Kanantik Reef & Jungle Resort.

2. Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary

Approximately 30 minutes north of the Belize International Airport in Ladyville, the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary is known as the best birding spot in Belize, if not in Central America. Wetlands, waterways and lagoons make up the preserve, which is home to many endangered species, including the Mexican Black Howler Monkey, Morelet's Crocodile, the Yellow-headed Parrot, and most famously, the jabiru stork -- the largest flying bird in the new world (pictured).

3. Community Baboon Sanctuary

Community Baboon Sanctuary
Kirsten Hubbard
About 30 minutes west of Belize City, the Community Baboon Sanctuary was established to protect Belize's black howler monkey (called baboons by Belizean locals). Guides will take you out on the trails and call the monkeys down by mimicking their calls.

4. The Belize Zoo & Tropical Education Center

The Belize Zoo & Tropical Education Center
Kirsten Hubbard
The Belize Zoo & Tropical Education Center is known as "the best little zoo in the world", due to its intimate forest setting and the passion of its staff. It's located about one hour west of Belize City, on Belize's Western Highway. You can see my photos of the Belize Zoo in our Belize Zoo Image Gallery.

5. More Central America Wildlife Refuges

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