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Conservation for the Next Generation!

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Every year, hundreds of senior high school students in Belize test the waters of the “adult word” by engaging in career experience training. For many of the students, these experiences influence the direction of their future professional careers.

The Belize Zoo has continuously provided a unique working environment where young Belizeans can encounter their native wildlife first hand, and become actively involved in their care and conservation.

Recently, two superb students from Gwendolyn Lizarraga High School in Belize City joined the Zoo to fulfill their career experience session. Theodore Gentle and Areini Colón, both Science majors, arrived at the Zoo eager to learn and ready to participate. Areini and Theodore shirked no task assigned to them; painting enclosures, organizing libraries, preparing animal diets and digitizing historical and invaluable Zoo photo slides without hesitation. Both students understood that every task, big and small, helps move the organization forward.

Areini and Theodore also learned that it is never a dull day at the Zoo, and “unique” tasks often present themselves. Theodore enthusiastically assisted the Zoo crew with the gritty work of recovering the buried bones of late and great “April” the tapir. These bones were needed so that they can be restored and preserved in tribute to the world’s most famous tapir ambassador. The students were then asked to write letters to a Zoo fan in Europe who was collecting letters and stamps from around the world. Their wonderful letters about their experiences with culture and wildlife in Belize were sent by airmail straight to Madrid, Spain.

Finally, Arieni and Theodore left the Zoo having the distinction of being the first two participants in the Zoo’s new on-site interpretive education program. Equipped with animal artifacts, treats, and impressive knowledge, the two students prowled the Zoo grounds engaging visitors in interactive conversations about the charismatic “residents” of The Belize Zoo. Visitors’ experience was certainly enriched as they got to feel and compare rare raptor feathers, hold a real jaguar skull, and feed the national bird of Belize, the Keel-billed toucan, thanks to these gifted young Belizeans.

TBZ thanks Arieni and Theodore for their wonderful assistance and wish them the best of luck in their academic careers. With a little luck, Belize may now have two more conservationists in the making!

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