- established and maintains a successful wildlife education business for over 20 years
- taught wildlife education courses across the country for the Feline Conservation Federation (FCF)
- held an FCF board position and Chair of their Education Committee
- performed hundreds of wildlife outreach programs with the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Wild Kingdom
- raised thousands of dollars for small wild cat conservation
Ed & Debi Willoughby are the founders of Belize Wild Cats. They have dedicated themselves to the animal profession for over 20 years. They have their own wildlife education business, Jungle Encounters, where they travel to schools and teach children about wild cats and conservation. A main focus of the Jungle Encounters business is the Belize Wild Cats field research.
Parent Company: Jungle Encounters
501(c)3 EIN #82-2129994
Debi Willoughby has a lifetime of experience working with animals. Her first volunteer job was working in a veterinarian's office helping take care of the animals. After that she went to college at U-Mass Amherst with an Animal Science major. From there she gained experience in the exotic animal field by volunteering at and working at various zoos in the area. This is where her love for exotic animals took off and she founded her own wildlife education business, Jungle Encounters, in the year 2000. Jungle Encounters is a USDA and state licensed private facility that does wildlife educational outreach throughout the New England area teaching people of all ages about wildlife and conservation with their animal ambassadors. You can learn more about this outreach business at www.JungleEncounters.org.
Debi's educational shows taught her that the general public is familiar with the big cats that they see at zoos and on TV, but know very little about the small wild cat species. That is when she decided to focus Jungle Encounters efforts on spreading awareness about and raising funds for small wild cat conservation. Over the past 15+ years she has raised thousands of dollars to support in-situ conservation projects around the world. She has devoted so much of her life to this cause that she wanted to do more and founded the Belize Wild Cats Research Project where she could have a direct impact on ensuring wild felines remain wild in a pristine natural habitat setting.
In 2013 Debi and her husband, Ed, spent 3 years developing this project to get it up and running and were able to put the foundation in place to start this worthy project. In the beginning of 2016 Sipriano Canti, head ranger at BFREE and licensed tour guide, joined the team and they set out their first trail cameras in the Belizean jungles. Together these three work hard to keep this project running. Ed & Debi spend part of their time in the USA raising funds and furthering the projects direction, and spend the rest of the time in the Belize jungle working on this project. Sipriano is native to Belize and spends every day patrolling and protecting the jungle and maintaining our trail cameras. They are all dedicated people who truly care about the flora and fauna of Belize.
- Active Feline Conservation Federation (FCF) member
- Actively involved with the Belize Central Wildlife Corridor Preservation
- supporter of other wild animal facilities