SXM News: St Maarten Zoo Future in Doubt, Pelicans Return to Divi Little Bay, Rainforest Adventures Opening

Compared to Zoos in the United States, the Sint Maarten Zoo was a modest, if not quaint, setting. However, it was the largest Zoological and Botanical Garden in the entire Caribbean. That honor may now belong to Parke Tropikal in Curaçao, which is where several of the remaining animals have been transferred. And as with everything on the island of Sint Maarten, the zoo withstood plenty of damage from Hurricane Irma.

With so many losses sustained by everyone and everything on the island, it appears there may not be enough resources left to keep the Sint Maarten Zoo open and functioning. According to a report by, the future of the zoo is quite uncertain. Not only did the zoo sustain damage from the hurricane, but looters also got the best of it.

The Sint Maarten Zoo board is now focused on cleaning up and possibly transitioning the zoo property into a park for the island. It’s unknown as this time if that will happen or not, but it’s fairly safe to say that without funding from a ‘white knight’, the zoo may not ever reopen.

Brown pelicans return to Sint Maarten

The brown pelican, or Pelicanus Occidentalis, is the National bird of Sint Maarten. And we’re happy to announce that they have returned to the island.

The Sint Maarten Nature Foundation posted this video, showing pelicans that have returned to their breeding colony at Divi Little Bay. While, sadly, many pelicans were found dead, injured or missing after the storm, it appears that several have returned and resumed nesting and laying eggs.

As noted by Nature Foundation Manager, Tadzio Bervoets, “A week after Hurricane Maria during one of our first assessments we were able to establish that we completely lost the Divi Little Bay Pelican Breeding site below Fort Amsterdam. We were very disappointed to note that the complete breeding site had been decimated, especially since we have been monitoring that area since 2010. Last week we returned to the site and to our surprise we found that the majority of breeding pairs had re-established themselves, with numerous nest being laid and eggs being brooded.”

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Rainforest Adventures announces opening

Originally scheduled to open in the Summer of 2017, Sint Maarten’s Rockland Estate Rainforest Adventures eco-park is now officially slated to open in November. Of course, every business that opens, particularly those that support tourism, is a sign that things are slowly getting back to normal.

Here’s more information about the park and what to expect:

Rainforest Adventures is located on the historic Emilio Wilson Estate just a short ride from Port Sint Maarten and major hotels. This new attraction delivers a dynamic and unforgettable experience featuring the historic Emilio Wilson Museum, breathtaking 360-degree views from Sint Maarten’s highest mountain and four rides including the world’s steepest zip line, the “Flying Dutchman”.

The gateway for each adventure is the Emilio Wilson Museum located in the property’s restored plantation house. Guests will learn the powerful story of Trace Wilson, born into slavery on the estate in 1818 and his descendant Emilio Wilson who purchased the property to educate current and future generations about the conditions of plantation life as well as the customs, traditions and history of Sint Maarten, “The Friendly Island.”

The lineup of attractions continues with the Soualiga Sky Explorer chairlift, a series of 58 four passenger chairs, taking guests soaring to the transfer station, an experience that is accessible for everyone. From there, visitors can traverse the ridge on a traditional four-span Zip Line ride for amazing views and high-flying excitement.

A second chairlift continues to the top of Sentry Hill, Sint Maarten’s highest elevation at 1,125 feet. A series of platforms encircle the mountaintop showcasing 360-degree views of the whole island including vistas of neighboring islands Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Barts and Anguilla.

Rockland Estate’s main attraction — the Flying Dutchman — is the world’s steepest zip line. Its overall grade of 42 degrees guarantees thrill seekers the ride of a lifetime while securely harnessed in a chair, shooting them from the top of Sentry Hill down the mountain over a 2,630-foot span at a high speed of 56 miles per hour.

The innovative Schooner Ride is located at the midway point of the Soualiga Sky Explorer. Here, guests hop in an inner tube to go careening down the mountain through curves and straightaways on a specially designed 750-foot track.

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Jon Ferlise

I fell in love with the island of Saint Martin the first time I visited to celebrate my 40th birthday in May of 2009. Since then, I've spent most birthdays there, and have visited countless other times getting to know this wonderful place and the friendly locals that make it so special. I adore the culture, the people, the community, and the beauty of this stunning island. SXM Strong is a website that I started to support humanitarian relief efforts following Hurricane Irma. There was no plan, it just evolved as I witnessed the devastation that Irma caused the island and the huge need to communicate and disseminate information about what had happened and how people could help support this island and its people.

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