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During coronavirus, locals donate food to Belize zoo

May 27, 2020

In Belize, zoos and rescue centers are struggling to feed their animals with the Central American country in coronavirus lockdown. Zookeepers and conservationists explain how they're managing to care for their charges.

A monkey eating
Image: DW/K. Döhne

Belize: Coronavirus-era conservation

Belize Zoo has something of a reputation for being a haven for animals. Most of the species living there have been rescued from poachers or poor conditions. All are native to the Central American country bounded on one side by the Caribbean and on the other by lush rainforest.

Usually, visitors to the zoo can get a close look at jaguars, toucans, tapirs and other endemic species. But now that the country is in coronavirus lockdown and can't welcome any customers, founder Sharon Matola, says the institution is struggling financially. And that makes it hard to keep their hundreds of animals sufficiently fed.

But locals are stepping in and donating everything from sugarcane to pigs' heads to supplement the zoo dwellers' diets.

The zoo isn't the only place fighting to ensure their animals remain well cared for. NGOs, such as Belize Bird Rescue, are looking for ways to make up for the shortfall in tourist revenue and the transformations brought around by the global pandemic.

A film by Katja Döhne