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The Zoo Takes A Walk Against Cancer


For the past sixteen years, the Belize City based Belize Cancer Society has sponsored a fund-raising walk to empower their on going and important work.  This year was the biggest walk in these many years.  Over 2,000 people showed up in the early morning hours to stride from Ladyville to the Belize City Cancer Center headquarters located on Mercy Lane.  Among the throng were eight representatives from The  Belize Zoo.  Smiling and excited and fueled by granola bars and water, TBZ walkers all felt strongly linked to the morning’s event.  Having lost family members to cancer was surely one reason for this good effort.  Also, losing  beloved zoo animals to cancer reminds us all of the persistent force of this disease.  The much-loved “Ellen”, our black jaguar, died of cancer in 2008.

Promoting awareness and understanding about cancer and providing support for affected families are major objectives of the Belize Cancer Society.   The funds raised from the recent walk will help with costs of test and diagnoses, as well as with necessary treatments.

At The Belize Zoo, all agreed that participating in this important event linked well with our efforts in the recent past to assist the Dangriga Cancer Center.  Joining with Salima Barrow and friends, Abigail and Hayley, we worked to provide funds aimed at helping children affected by cancer.  These efforts proved to be a successful boost, and like the yearly walk for Cancer, TBZ will continue to fund -raise for the Dangriga Cancer Center during the Christmas season. The zoo crew will be walking again next year, too, showing a repeated effort of support from The Best Little Zoo in the World, on behalf of the good work being set forward by the Belize Cancer Society.

Interestingly, the mutations which occur in normal cells, leading to cancerous changes in humans, also occur often in animals.  Millions of dogs get diagnosed with cancer each year.  Prostate cancer runs a similar clinical course in both men and male dogs.  Leukemia has been reported in boa constrictors.  The same cancer which claimed the life of Apple’s Steve Jobs is very rare in humans, but common in ferrets and German shepherds.

Cancer has been around for eons.  Ancient Greek doctors, including Hippocrates, wrote about cancer in their medical texts.   Paleontologists, using electron microscopes, even diagnosed a fossilized brain tumor in the remains of a Gorgosaurus, cousin to the fierce T. rex.  Yes, the ancient dinosaurs had instances of cancer, too!

The Cancer Walk was successful in raising awareness about this prevalent disease, and bringing more funds to address the treatments and issues associated with cancer.  Well done:   Jamal, Seina, the Wohlers family, Martha, Lillian and Ervin, for your great Belize Zoo participation on behalf of such an important cause.

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