Kind Kids Adventure, learning about reptiles - Be Kind Belize
Many people in the San Pedro community are now aware of Be Kind Belize, but they may not have heard about the Kind Kids Adventure that we held on the 22nd and 23rd of August. We organised a two day trip to the mainland for a group of children, who had all participated in the Be Kind Belize programme. These children had been voted as some of the kindest children in their classes by their classmates and so were given the opportunity to take part in this truly amazing adventure.
All of the children arrived at the San Pedro Express Water Taxi dock early, so we had no problems catching the 7:00am express on Saturday morning. Six children attended from Holy Cross Anglican School and Island Academy in San Pedro, accompanied by two teachers – one from each school. Upon the children’s arrival they all received Be Kind Belize knapsacks, which were kindly donated by Deborah Gagnon from Denny’s Canada, filled with goodies that had been donated by Lori & Jim Prediger and Charlene and Ted Jordan. They were also each given a special Be Kind Belize t-shirt that had been donated by Gecko Graphics. The San Pedro – Belize Express Water Taxi Company provided free transportation for the whole group.
When we reached Belize City, we were greeted by Karen Turner Cruz from Belize Jungle Dome, who donated all of the transportation for the two days travel. Her three children, from Roaring Creek Village, joined the group and we set off for our exciting adventure.
Our first destination was Belize Bird Rescue. Our visit started with an amazing horse demonstration done by Belizean cowboy, Alyson Coye. He demonstrated the correct care of horses’ hooves and gave the children the opportunity to see a farrier at work. He then showed the children a gentle way to develop trust between a handler and young foal. They met Jack, the one eyed horse, who had been abandoned by the roadside and they all got the opportunity to groom and handle the horses.
Following this, the children were given an educational talk by Jerry Larder and Nikki Buxton on the rehabilitation wild birds in Belize. They were able to see several types of parrot, a Crested Guan and a Tinamou, which were all being rehabilitated for return to the wild. The children learned how important it is to preserve these species in the wild and not to hunt them or keep them as pets. The children then took a walk through the beautiful grounds of Belize Bird Rescue to Roaring Creek, where they saw and learned about a non mechanised water wheel. They were able to cool their feet in the creek and enjoy the sensation of small fish that like to nibble on toes. After lunch, they all had great fun making toys for the parrots and then were able to take them to the aviary to give to the birds. This was most definitely a highlight of the children’s’ trip.
We then popped up the road to visit Dr. Orlando Baptist at his veterinary surgery, located in his home in Roaring Creek Village. Dr. Baptist explained to the children what life is like for a vet in Belize and what he had to accomplish to become a fully qualified veterinary surgeon. He spoke to them about the importance of caring for animals properly and answered all of their questions about his work.
As if the day had not been busy enough, we then headed out to Belize Herpetarium and Aquarium Park to get a behind the scenes tour of this educational facility that is not yet open to the public. Tony Garel, the founder, is one of Belize’s leading experts on reptiles. The children were able to see live examples of some of the venomous snakes of Belize and learn about problem crocodiles. They were given the exciting opportunity to watch the captive crocodiles being fed and all of them rated this visit as one of their favourite parts of the adventure. They got to see firsthand exactly how aggressive crocodiles can be when they lose their fear of human as one of the crocodiles, which had been removed from people who were keeping it illegally as a pet, repeatedly attempted to attack Tony. A very sobering lesson.
After this we headed down to Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch. Ian had been extremely generous in inviting our group to stay at Caves Branch. Not only did he lay on meals for all of us, but we were treated to the best rooms in the house and a breath taking and awe inspiring cave tubing expedition into Footprint Cave with Edgar and Alex as our intrepid guides. The children learned about the geology of caves, as well as getting a chance to see Maya cave carvings and learn about some of their ancient rituals.
We all piled into the van and headed up to Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, which gave the children a truly different and interesting talk on ‘bio gas’ systems. Monkey Bay actually converts all of their human waste and put it to good use. Gas produced is used for cooking and eventually the compost is used to fertilise the soil. They also have an iguana conservation programme and the children were told about efforts to protect the green iguana in Belize.
Our final destination was Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Centre. Keeper, Hilario Sho, gave us all a whirlwind tour. The children were able to feed White Tailed Deer, Tapir and Scarlet Macaw. They had the chance to see the Zoo founder, Sharon Matola, interact with one of the rare Harpy Eagles that the Zoo works so hard to protect and even the rare opportunity to see Junior, the baby Jaguar up close.
Tired and with brains so full of their experiences and information, the children were greeted in San Pedro with a final and delicious treat of artisan Belizean chocolates, which had been so kindly donated Kakaw Chocolate.
Special thanks must be given to donors who supplied funds to make this trip possible. These are Marty Casado from AmbergrisCaye.com, the Jordans and the McGhees. This adventure would not have been possible without the generous support of Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch, San Pedro – Belize Water Taxi, Karen Turner Cruz and Belize Jungle Dome, Deborah Gagnon and Denny’s Canada, Gecko Graphics, KaKaw Chocolate, Lori & Jim Prediger, Belize Bird Rescue, Alyson Coye, Dr. Orlando Baptist, Tony Garel and the Belize Herpatorium and Aquarium Park, Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary and Belize Zoo/Tropical Education Centre. Also, thanks to Alana Sullivan for carrying the backpacks down from Canada for us.
Most of all Be Kind Belize thanks the teachers from Holy Cross Anglican School and Island Academy for being such great companions and excellent role models for the kids – Daniel Jones and Tara McGregor.
Photographs by Colette Kase
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Other Belizean "Pictures of the Day":
San Pedro Daily, Tony Rath's "Images of Belize"