This year, Christmas was ever so special at the Zoo. Now, just over one year after we were devastated by Hurricane Richard, our “new look” has drawn nothing but compliments from visitors. School group visitation has increased, and we can readily see that the messages the Zoo puts forth about protecting the nation’s natural resources, is having a positive effect.
Christmas time provides us the perfect time to pause and reflect on our lives and the lives of our loved ones. What kind of Belize are we leaving to our children? When we see so many families enjoying the Zoo, experiencing the magic of our native animals, it is clearly seen that they beam proudly about their special wildlife. Besides evoking an inward sense of national pride, it is hoped that this natural resources patriotism can go steps further in seeing that our country’s flora and fauna are protected into the future. Providing the fuel for a solid attitude of national pride, The Belize Zoo believes that this will assist in building public awareness. Hopefully, this awareness will lead to more proactive stands against unsound and greed-driven development projects, which harm the environment and put our natural resources at risk.
When our Christmas visitors enjoy being “up close and personal” with our representative National Animals, our fine crew of Tapirs at the Zoo, we also hope that this causes a feeling of strong concern about the status of their species in the wild. This Christmas season, it is sad to consider that Guatemalan invasions into the Chiquibul forest are proving to be critically detrimental to our Tapir populations there, as well as to other species of wildlife.
Recently, the Zoo, along with Friends of Conservation and Development, FCD, as well as the Belize Forest Department, rescued a baby male tapir. It is believed that his mother was hunted by poachers in the Chiquibul reserve, which sits on the Belize-Guatemala border. The orphan, christened “Chiquibul” captured our hearts immediately. We all had very high hopes that our new little mountain cow could draw further attention to the unjust exploitation taking place in the Chiquibul forest. And what better time to herald this vital cause than during the Christmas season?
Sadly, little “Chiquibul” did not survive. But the determination to save the Chiquibul forest has most definitely survived. With increased awareness in our Belizean citizens about these criminal invasions, we strongly hope that, next Christmas, we will be appreciating a better-protected Chiquibul forest, where our important natural resources, precious plants and animals, have a safe and sound sanctuary. Merry Christmas to all from everyone at The Belize Zoo!