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Sep 9, 2020

The Belize Zoo Needs Your Help

Since COVID-19 hit the Belize Zoo has been facing some tough financial times. They have had to close off to visitors for most of the past few months and have relied on donations. Since then they say that generous members of the public have helped to keep the animals fed. A group of tour guides in Belize City has also been hard at work collecting meats, fruits and veggies weekly. And as we reported, the Lord Ashcroft Relief Fund also gave the Zoo a twenty thousand dollar contribution. And while these donations are big help – the zoo is asking for your support. We spoke with Celso Poot, the Operations and Finance Manager of the Zoo about just how costly it is to operate a non-profit without the flow of its revenue stream:

 

Celso Poot, Operations and Finance Manager, The Belize Zoo

“We are surviving solely on good will, on donations from the community. We are getting monetary donation and in kind donation. But, yes, our revenue stream has dried up with no tourism in the country. And as a result of that we really have to rely on the community support.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So, right now, how much does it take to keep the zoo up and running; to keep our animals alive?”

 

Celso Poot

Celso Poot

“Right now we have over two hundred animals. We have about forty-five different species of animals; fifteen jaguars; nine tapirs. The jaguars eat somewhere between five pounds of food for the day. Meat, if you average that three dollars a pound and at five pounds we have fifteen dollars a day per jaguar and we have fifteen jaguars. The tapirs deh eat about fifty pounds of food for the day and again we have nine tapirs, so just to feed the animals alone – it costs the zoo about twenty-five thousand dollars a month.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Explain to us the structure and the fact that the zoo is a non-profit and so you relied on the foot traffic that you would usually get but now that has dried up?”

Celso Poot

“The zoo is a non-profit and all the revenue that the zoo gets from visitation, sales in the gift shop; sales in the café and group stays over at the tropical education center goes back into the work we do. A lot of people visited the zoo as kids in school; those posters that they get; the visit costs and all of those are provided by the Belize Zoo and funded through the revenues that the zoo collects. In March we had fifty-six employees and all those employees are paid by the revenues we get. We have programs for teachers in the summer; we have our annual summer camp – those programmes are also funded by the revenue the zoo collects. We have a lot of local school groups that come and do research and work over at the tropical education center; they are also subsidized by the revenue the zoo makes. So, the money the zoo makes during the peak season is reinvested into conservation programs we have at the zoo. We were coming out of a very slow season and so when COVID hit us in March we really weren’t prepared for this long haul and we were able to survive on our own finances for at least three months but after that things got really dire for us.”

 

If you can help the Belize Zoo, the Zoo is accepting donations of vegetables, fruits, ground food – sweet potato, cassava, cocoa, as well as meat and small fish. You can call the Belize Zoo or get in touch with them on Facebook. But if you want to help another way, you pay a visit to the zoo.  It now opens only on weekends from nine to four and entrance fees are seven dollars for adults and two dollars for children.

 

 


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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