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TBZ Director: A Paul Harris Fellow Awardee

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Recently, the Rotary Club of Belize had an annual handing over ceremony. Outgoing President Maria Coyi, presented the honours of Rotary Leadership to Lyn Young. Part of the ceremony included honouring  Belizeans who have reflected the philosophy of the organization’s founder, Paul Harris.

Paul Harris founded the Rotary Club in 1905 with the important purpose of being a service organization and upholding the motto, “Service Above Self”.  Starting small, the organization grew over the years, providing goodwill and assistance to countless important causes.  Today, there are well over a million members belonging to the international Rotary Club.

Each year, the Rotary Club of Belize presents a Paul Harris Fellow Award to a select few.  Zoo Director Sharon Matola was among those honoured this year as a Paul Harris Fellow.  Her contribution to Belize, providing a zoo which has brought the magic of Belizean wildlife to the people of our nation, was noted.  The Belize Zoo is now thirty years old, and has a reputation of being one of the finest zoos in the world.  Mr. Ariel Mitchell, who introduced Sharon Matola, mentioned that she had come to Belize to work as an assistant for documentary filmmaker, Richard Foster.  She started the little zoo with the animals who were used in these important films, but then found themselves facing a questionable future when the film projects came to an end.

She started the zoo thinking it would be a possible option of a good life for her “film star” friends.   Sharon started The Belize Zoo not having any past zoo experience, and not having any connections to any zoological institution anywhere.  “I really saw this modest little backyard zoo as a way to share the incredible animals of Belize with the nation’s people”.  Her work and persistence resulted in seeing that a quality zoological institution, The Belize Zoo, has a home forever at Mile 29 on the George Price Highway.

The invitation to attend the event also said that Sharon should feel welcome to bring along a guest.  So she did.  Rose the crocodile came along for the evening out, and seemed to enjoy the Rotary Club meeting.  Rose accompanied Sharon as she received her certificate and pin, and a few Rotarians and guests had the opportunity to “meet and greet” Rose the crocodile.   This friendly American crocodile is one of the animal “Ambassadors” who call The Best Little Zoo in the World, home sweet home.

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