These are some of the great experiences students and interns had with the Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic, the Wildlife Institute and our partners who work on the front lines of wildlife conservation in Belize and the region.
"My Belize adventure was by far one of the greatest two weeks I have ever experienced"
I interned with the Belize Wildlife & Referral Clinic for two weeks in April of 2015. The clinic is an amazing place with an absolutely brilliant staff. I found out about the clinic through a post on Facebook, and I decided to email the link provided where I received a response the same day. They were readily available and extremely helpful, making it easy to apply and join their next course. As a pre-veterinary student, Dr. Isabelle and the rest of the team welcomed me into a course where I learned so much that will greatly benefit my future. From hand-feeding a baby kinkajou and giving daily meds to iguanas to assisting in a surgery for a howler monkey, I learned and practiced valuable techniques with beautiful animals found in this magnificent area of the world. Every member of the team was enthusiastic and truly wanted to help me learn. Our group was able to also travel to ARCAS in Guatemala where, among other animals, we worked with scarlet macaws, and we also visited the Belize Zoo where we experienced an encounter with one their famous jaguars named Buddy. My Belize adventure was by far one of the greatest two weeks I have ever experienced, and I am so grateful to the staff for being so welcoming and teaching me so much.
"The clinic with its many opportunities both on and off site was an excellent educational experience"
February of 2015 found me returning to Belize to visit Dr Isabelle, and Justin Ford at the Belize Wildlife Referral Clinic. Since my previous visit to Belize one year earlier, I had just passed my International Wildlife Certification exam. I had met Isabelle and Justin in 2014 while I was volunteering at Wildtracks. I was so impressed with their knowledge and compassion for all the wildlife of Belize that I knew the next visit was going to be to their clinic. When my husband Keith and I arrived, the clinic was extremely busy caring for a variety of newly injured and recuperating wildlife patients. Dr Isabelle was out with two other volunteer vets darting and capturing a juvenile howler monkey that was then sent to Wildtracks. Dr Isabelle is the only fulltime wildlife vet in Belize and she covers the entire country. Her clinic is the only facility with radiology, ultrasound, and more advanced surgical equipment. The clinic set up impressed me as much as Dr. Isabelle did. The clinic staff graciously welcomed our help and assigned us patients. I took care of a 6-7 foot boa named Margo. She had been run over by a bushwhacker a few months back and was all busted up. She was doing much better so I carried her outside to lie in the sun and got her to move around to get some exercise. I syringe fed strawberry yogurt to a four eyed baby opossum named Piccolo who had an injured nose. So adorable. A very frightened juvenile raccoon was just admitted and was too stressed to be handled so I just fed and cleaned his enclosure with him in it. He later calmed down nicely. Feeder mice and rats needed some attention and cleaning. Every animal no matter what their purpose gets treated with compassion and dignity. Another patient, a green iguana named stargazer, had been brought over from the Iguana Project. He had been injured by another male lizard and was a little neurologic. I was assessing his ability to walk and climb. Three red slider turtles that are not indigenous to this environment were at the clinic to be sterilized surgically and then released. They are a byproduct of the pet trade. When people tire of them they just release them, and if not captured and sterilized or euthanized they will compete with the indigenous species for food and territory. Another turtle, an endangered Hicatee was there for treatment and to put on weight. Working with an endangered species is always a privilege, and it was extra special because this was my first Hicatee. At the end of the day we traveled off site to feed two coatis, Clarence and Lola. Whey were in a large enclosure in a secluded, wooded area to help them get ready for their release. The clinic with its many opportunities both on and off site was an excellent educational experience. Although the native wildlife species I work with on Cape Cod, Massachusetts are very different from those in Belize; the basic principles of animal care are the same. Working with Dr. Isabelle and her staff sent me on my way with new skills, new experiences to draw from, and new friends. Thank you for all you do.
Cape Wildlife Center Volunteer and Certified International Wildlife Rehabilitator