From Sharon and Jamal . . .
While our accessible pathway is not yet complete, the attractive pink avenue which presently winds around a good portion of the Zoo, has provided a wonderful recreation area for those who are challenged by disabilities. Over a year ago, our staff all agreed that it just was not fair to have some of the most stunning wildlife in the world, only viewable by those who can walk easily around the Zoo. How about our Belizean adults and children who spend each and everyday in a wheelchair? Or the elderly who would adore sharing the animals of Belize with their grandchildren, but just could not consider a fun day out simply due to the challenges of walking the zoo pathways? All of these Belizean folks should be able to scratch the nose of a mountain cow, or get mere inches away from Lucky Boy, our gorgeous black jaguar.
In order to make The Belize Zoo accessible, a major development scheme had to be put into place. Fortunately, our zoo has had the strong support and encouragement from the State University of New York, (SUNY) Cortland, to assist with our efforts. There are academic formal programs, based at SUNY Cortland’s Inclusive Recreation Resource Center (IRRC), which focus upon the resource needs for those challenged by various disabilities. Students from these programs, led by their expert instructors in the art of accessibility, have spent time at the Zoo and assisted in seeing that we are a friendly destination for those folks with physical disabilities.
The dream is not yet complete. Our pink pathway must be in place around the entire Zoo, and while funding has stalled the progress, the plans are still “on the boards”. We plan to have an accessible picnic area outside of the zoo, and of course, with a suitable restroom facility, too. A pathway there will go from this area-of-chill-out, directly into The Belize Zoo.
Our superb colleagues based in SUNY Cortland, joined by TBZ Environmental Educator, Jamal Andrewin, will be aggressively working together to secure funds which will work to see that the dream of The Belize Zoo becoming completely accessible to all is realized. This coming December, we will be hosting a day at the zoo for members of B.A.P.D.A, the Belize Assembly for People with Diverse Abilities. And all Belizeans with physical challenges facing them in their world, will be invited to join in on what promises to be, a most memorable day of fun.
The Best Little Zoo in the World, thanks to our Zoo Friends both here and abroad, is simply becoming better and better.