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New York, Zoo York!

As the Fall season brought changes in colors and hues to the foliage in the U.S, exciting changes happening at “the Best Little Zoo in the World” were shared with the folks of Central New York. TBZ’s Environmental Educator, Jamal Andrewin-Bohn, once again teamed up with the wonderful team at the State University of New York (SUNY) Cortland, to bring the dynamic work of The Belize Zoo to a broader audience in the “Empire State.” The goal of this visit was to “raise friends and funds for the Zoo,” at a crucial time in its 30 year history. A jam packed itinerary first took Mr. Jamal on a small detour over to Connecticut to join a superb workshop on assessing Accessibility and Inclusivity of recreation centers and institutions. Mr. Jamal was given the chance to discuss the Zoo’s unprecedented project of making its pathways accessible, bringing the physically disabled closer to Belize’s wonderful wildlife.

Jumping back to Cortland, the “Zoo tour” continued with many talks on SUNY’s main campus, then a trip over to neighbouring Tully and Ithaca, to strengthen ties with Tully Junior High School, and Cornell University respectively. The talks were always high energy and engaging. Everything from the Zoo’s history, to its charismatic residents, to the amazing survival story of “Lucky Boy” the black jaguar wowed students and lecturers alike. These superb sharing opportunities were a two way street.  As the Zoo worked to gain awareness and support for its conservation efforts, students learned about exciting opportunities for them in Belize, as well. Interning at the Zoo, or branching out and working with other great NGOs were some of the many cool prospects shared.

A day out of the classroom setting meant a day visiting the Rosamund Gifford Zoo in Syracuse. Here, Mr. Jamal got a world class tour of the impressive urban Zoo, bouncing ideas and stories of their brilliant education and admin staff. The crowning moment on a great visit, was Mr. Jamal being taken to meet “Senge,” the Zoo’s young Snow Leopard, who was like a snowy version to TBZ’s own Junior Buddy.  Senge was as people friendly as Belize’s star jaguar!!

The team ended the Zoo tour with a bang: a fundraiser at Cortland’s Blue Frog Coffee house. All through the tour, this great night of music, prizes, and zoo stuff was promoted far and wide, and the turnout was excellent. The reinforced old ties, and newly made ones promise a bright future for the Zoo as it moves into its 30th year, and plans are already in motion for many visits from Belize Zoo loving New Yorkers to Belize in early 2013. A win-win for all!

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