When Hurricane Richard stormed through Central Belize, nowhere and nothing was spared. That spelt out trouble for the Belize Zoo where the rustic setting of wire fences and abundant forest were no match for Richard's raging winds. Indeed, the Zoo was properly "mashed up"- but the setback has been accepted as an opportunity for renewal.

Jim McFadzean found out more:

In the midst of unraveling the tangled web of destruction produced by Hurricane Richard, Zoo officials are trying to lessen the impact of snarling electric saws and clattering hammers on some of their favorite tenants.

The destruction to many of the animals habitats is overwhelming, but the pace at rebuilding those habitats is impressive.

Sharon Matola , founding director of the Belize Zoo says the result will be a new and dynamic zoo.

Sharon Matola, Director of Belize Zoo
"The zoo is at what we call in disaster state right now. we are working really hard every day to see that we will be open on the 1st of December and it's not going to look like this and its going to be a new and dynamic zoo and it will definitely still be worthy of being know as the best little zoo in the world."

The job at transformation is huge, and this downed 18 year old Guanacaste tree is testimony to that.

Umberto Waller
"Ok well here I am going to show you where we had the Tapir exhibit and just in front was the Guanacaste tree that was over 18 years old and this is going to change all the aspects of the zoo."

None of the Zoo's population was lost to the storm, but some of its most distinguished and celebrated residents such as "junior" the jaguar had to be locked up (07:22)while his living quarters were restored.

Sharon Matola, Director of Belize Zoo
"What is exciting to me and to Berto and to all of us right now Junior Buddy has been locked up for 10 days now and what improvements have been done to his enclosure?"

Umberto Waller
"We have put in new furniture in there, we have put in some new logs right from here, all the electrics have been working now so today is an exciting day for Junior."

Were it not for the storm, the Zoo had plans today to officially launch two books featuring Junior who is dubbed as the Belize Zoo's Jaguar Ambassador.

Zoo educational officer, Lamar Andrewin says the hurricane damage will be a minor setback to its overall educational efforts.

Lamar Andrewin, Zoo educational officer
"Our educational program has not been stopped just a bit delayed by hurricane Richard. To accompany Junior books today was suppose to be release is also this jaguar poster call 'Help or Hurt Me' so basically this was meant to be release countrywide today; in the airport, restaurants, schools all over and it's just basically reminded people that the jaguar population in is decline; we are estimating about 6-800 jaguars left in the wild and this is being a part from deforestation this is being affected also by the illegal trade of artifacts."

Sharon Matola, Director of Belize Zoo
"One thing I got to say about hurricanes; they can't read, can they?"

Our Thanks to Richard Foster for providing video for that story…

Channel 7