From TBZ Founding Director Sharon Matola. . .
During the past weeks, The Mexican Ambassador to Belize, Hon. Carlos Quesnel, has been initiating a formal agreement between The Belize Zoo and three major zoos located in Mexico City. Since this important linkage required the approval of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Environmental Secretariat in Mexico, much communication transpired. As a result, a Memo of Understanding was signed, and we all look forward to a productive working relationship.
Besides the positive aspect of Mexico and Belize fostering a unique cross border program through our respective zoological institutions, wildlife conservation issues will be addressed and information, research and education efforts will be shared.
Mexico and Belize share many of the same wildlife species. Much of the wildlife in both countries, is at high risk of future extinction. Sadly, this includes the Central American Tapir, the magnificent Jaguar, the stunning Scarlet Macaw, and our primate populations. The theme of working together for the protection of both the wildlife and the habitat which supports this dynamic array of species, will be reinforced. Hopefully, we are looking at staff training and exchanges. Breeding in captivity, a science which is approached by quality zoos throughout the world, would certainly be explored. Another zoological strategy which can happen is the exchange of certain species of wildlife for important “match making”.
The Belize Zoo has a proud example of this aspect involving zoological friendships. Our male King Vulture, “Rex”, was captive bred in a zoo in the United States. Given to us when “Rex” was still a youngster, we located a mate for him when he reached adulthood. And his happy bride, “Sally”, was captive-bred in the Salvador Zoo. They were brought together. “Rex” and “Sally” fell in love and produced a son, “Perfecto”. The Belize Zoo sent ex-cattle killer, Jaguar “Frankie” to the Philadelphia Zoo, and ex-cattle killer Jaguar “Pat” to the Milwaukee Country Zoo. Both of these jaguars have educated thousands about jaguar conservation. Both have sired cubs. This important measure has seen that there is now a genetically healthier captive population of jaguars in USA Zoological institutions.
The Belize Zoo is always interested in adding innovation into our environmental education programs. Sharing ideas and education project programs, only works to see that important education initiatives become stronger, better and more effective.
The Belize Zoo sincerely thanks Hon. Carlos Quesnel and his staff at the Mexican Embassy for their enthusiastic work and input aimed at seeing that this important Mexico/Belize zoological friendship and collaboration is realized.