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#21635 - 09/09/06 05:53 PM Interview with Sharon Matola, Director of the Belize Zoo
Marty Offline
BELIZEmagazine.com: Please tell us where and in what year were you born? What was it like as a child growing up in your hometown? How has the town/district changed since your youth?

Sharon Matola: I GREW UP IN BALTIMORE, MARYLAND. THERE WAS NOT A GREAT DEAL OF THE NATURAL WORLD AROUND ME, HOWEVER, I TOOK AN EARLY INTEREST IN INSECTS, BIRDS, CATS, DOGS AND WAS DRAWN TO NATURE AS A CHILD. I DO REMEMBER TRAINING A SQUIRREL TO COME AND SIT ON MY KNEE, TAKING PEANUTS FROM MY HAND. I WAS SEVEN YEARS OLD. SO I GREW UP IN THE CITY WITH THE YEARNING OF WANTING MORE NATURE IN MY LIFE.

YEARS AND YEARS LATER, I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO COME TO BELIZE ON A TEMPORARY JOB ASSIGNMENT. THIS WAS WORKING AS A FILM ASSISTANT TO RICHARD FOSTER, A DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER IN BELIZE. HE NEEDED SOMEONE TO MANAGE THE SMALL COLLECTION OF WILD ANIMALS WHICH HE USED FOR HIS WILDLIFE FILMS.

I JUMPED AT THE CHANCE TO UNDERTAKE THIS WORK. AND I FELL IN LOVE WITH BELIZE IMMEDIATELY. THAT WAS IN 1982.

BELIZEmagazine.com: How did you personally become involved with the Belize Zoo?

Sharon Matola: WHEN THE DOCUMENTARY FILM WHICH I WAS WORKING ON WITH RICHARD FOSTER CAME TO A CLOSE, THERE WAS A SEVERE LACK OF FUNDS TO SUPPORT THE ANIMALS WHICH HAD BEEN USED IN THE FILM PROJECT. RICHARD WAS SENT TO BORNEO TO COMPLETE ANOTHER DOCUMENTARY THERE. HE LEFT ME IN CHARGE BUT THERE WAS A CALL TO "GET RID OF THE ANIMALS" DUE TO A SHORTAGE OF FUNDS TO SUPPORT THEM. (THIS CALL CAME FROM THE PARENT FILM COMPANY BASED IN THE UK, NOT FROM RICHARD FOSTER)

RATHER THAN EXPLORE WAYS TO SEE THEIR EXIT, I THOUGHT, WELL, BELIZE DOESN'T HAVE A ZOO, SO I'LL HANG UP A FEW SIGNS AND LET THE WORD OUT THAT THERE IS NOW A PLACE WHERE PEOPLE CAN COME TO VIEW THE ANIMALS OF BELIZE.

WHAT SURPRISED ME WAS THE AMOUNT OF LOCAL INTEREST IN THIS BEGINNING ENDEAVOR. THEN IT HIT ME THAT THE STRONG INTEREST WAS BECAUSE THERE WAS SUCH A SENSE OF MYSTERY BACK THEN ABOUT THE WILDLIFE OF BELIZE, TO THE PEOPLE OF BELIZE. ALSO, THIS WAS BEFORE THE FAX MACHINE WAS AROUND, THE WESTERN HIGHWAY WAS NOT TOTALLY PAVED, AND MYTHS ABOUT WILDLIFE PERSISTED, I.E. THE TAPIR WAS DANGEROUS BECAUSE IT CAN SKIN YOU ALIVE WITH ITS FLEXIBLE NOSE......THE ANTEATER IS DANGEROUS BECAUSE IT CAN CAPTURE YOUR DOG AND FORCE ITS TONGUE UP THE DOG'S NOSE AND SUCK OUT THE DOG'S BRAINS....THESE ARE THE KINDS OF STORIES I HEARD REPEATEDLY BACK THEN.


ALSO, IT BOTHERED ME THAT THE CHILDREN OF BELIZE WERE GROWING UP WITH AN ARRAY OF INCREDIBLE ANIMALS IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY, BUT THEY WERE CLUELESS ABOUT THEM, ABSOLUTELY CLUELESS. I REMEMBERED WHAT FUN IT WAS GOING TO THE ZOO WHEN I WAS A CHILD AND IT SEEMED LIKE A GOOD WAY TO DIRECT MY LIFE - PROVIDING KIDS WITH THIS IMPORTANT AND FUN OPPORTUNITY. BESIDES, HOW ARE WE TO EXPECT PEOPLE TO APPRECIATE THEIR NATURAL RESOURCES, THEIR OWN ANIMALS, IF THEY DO NOT KNOW THESE ANIMALS......NOT ROCKET SCIENCE, THE BEGINNING OF THE BELIZE ZOO, JUST A LOGICAL VIEW OF WHAT SHOULD BE....

BELIZEmagazine.com: What do you consider to be the primary challenges for the people in Belize?

Sharon Matola: BELIZE HAS A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY TO SET AN IMPORTANT EXAMPLE OF ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP. HOWEVER, IN RECENT TIMES, THIS OBJECTIVE HAS BEEN WEAKENED BY THE GOING FORWARD OF UNSOUND DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS WHICH, UNFORTUNATELY, ARE NOT IN LINE WITH SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.

I WOULD LIKE TO USE THE CHALILLO DAM PROJECT AS A PRIMARY EXAMPLE. THIS DAM WAS NOTED BY RESPECTED SCIENTISTS, AS WELL AS ORGANIZATIONS SUCH AS THE INTERNATIONAL UNION FOR THE CONSERVATION OF NATURE, IUCN, THE WORLD WILDLIFE FUND, WWF, CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL, CI, THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM, LONDON....THE LIST GOES ON AND ON.........AS BEING A PROJECT THAT WOULD NOT ONLY DEGRADE THE BIODIVERSITY OF AN UNSPOILT REGION OF BELIZE, BUT CAUSE ECONOMIC HARDSHIP TO THE PEOPLE OF BELIZE, (ELECTRICITY RATES HAVE INCREASED SINCE THE BUILDING OF THE CHALILLO DAM) AND ALSO BRING THREATS TO THE WELL-BEING OF PEOPLE LIVING DOWNSTREAM FROM THE DAM. IN FACT, TODAY, WITH JUST A SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME SUBSEQUENT TO THE DAM BEING BUILT, THE RIVER IS NO LONGER USEABLE BY THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE TRADITIONALLY DEPENDED UPON IT FOR DRINKING WATER, SWIMMING AND FOR FISHING. IMPORTANT SPECIES OF WILDLIFE, SUCH AS THE SCARLET MACAW AND THE CENTRAL AMERICAN TAPIR, HAVE SEEN THEIR POPULATIONS HARMED DUE TO THIS PROJECT. THE VOICE OF COMPLAINT IS OFTEN HEARD, WHEN IT COMES TO THE CHALILLO DAM, HOWEVER, THE CHALLENGE REMAINS. THAT CHALLENGE IS SIMPLE: SPEAK OUT FOR WHAT ONE TRULY
BELIEVES IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO...PEOPLE IN BELIZE, FROM MY EXPERIENCE, EXPRESS A SOLID FEAR IN "SPEAKING OUT" AGAINST GOVERNMENT-INITIATED PROJECTS. EVEN IF THEY HAVE THE FACTS ABOUT THE NEGATIVE IMPACT A PROJECT WOULD HAVE, THERE IS A PERVASIVE FEAR THAT "VICTIMIZATION" WILL RESULT, IF ONE VOICES ONE'S OPINIONS AND IF THESE OPINIONS OPPOSE THE DIRECTION CHOSEN BY DECISION MAKERS. IF THIS WAY OF THINKING PERSISTS, MORE UNSOUND DEVELOPMENT WILL BE THE UNFORTUNATE COURSE FOR BELIZE THE CHALLENGE IS CLEAR: AS A NATION, SPEAKING OUT ON BEHALF OF THE GOOD OF THE PEOPLE AND THE RESOURCES OUR PEOPLE DEPEND UPON FOR A HEALTHY LIFE STYLE, IS IMPERATIVE.

BELIZEmagazine.com: What is the Belize Zoo doing to educate the youth of the country regarding the challenges facing the wildlife populations in Belize?

Sharon Matola: WE HAVE A VERY ACTIVE EDUCATION PROGRAM, VERY DYNAMIC. OVER 17,000 SCHOOLCHILDREN VISIT THE ZOO ANNUALLY. OUR EDUCATION DEPT PROVIDES AN INITIAL "WILDLIFE WELCOME" WHICH SETS THE PACE FOR THEIR VISIT. THEY LEARN ABOUT ENDANGERED SPECIES AND IMPORTANT HABITAT NECESSARY TO SUPPORT THE EXISTING POPULATIONS OF WILDLIFE IN BELIZE. THE BELIZE ZOO EDUCATION DEPARTMENT ALSO HAS AN OUTREACH PROGRAM. THIS PROGRAM VISITS SCHOOLS AND COMMUNITIES AND BRINGS TO THEM, THE IMPORTANT MESSAGES OF ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION. WE ARE CONTINUALLY RAISING FUNDS TO PROVIDE RESOURCES FOR THESE PROGRAMS SUCH AS BROCHURES AND POSTERS.

BELIZEmagazine.com: How will the current governmental fiscal restraints challenge the Belize Zoo?

Sharon Matola: WE HAVE NEVER RECEIVED ANY FINANCIAL SUPPORT FROM THE GOVERNMENT OF BELIZE TO ASSIST THE BELIZE ZOO. WHETHER THEY ARE RICH OR WHETHER THEY ARE POOR, THE BELIZE ZOO MARCHES ONWARDS MINUS ANY GOVERNMENT FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE.

BELIZEmagazine.com: Can you tell us a highlight to date of your life as the Director of the Belize Zoo?

Sharon Matola: THERE HAVE BEEN AN EXTRAORDINARY AMOUNT OF HIGHLIGHTS! I CAN MAKE A SHORT LIST:

1. THE BELIZE HARPY EAGLE RESTORATION PROGRAM, BHERP.
I WAS RESPONSIBLE IN SEEING THAT THIS IMPORTANT CONSERVATION PROJECT, STARTED IN PANAMA, BY THE PEREGRINE FUND, WAS BROUGHT TO BELIZE. THIS INVOLVES CAPTIVE-BREEDING OF HARPY EAGLES, TRAINING THEM TO BE INDEPENDENT HUNTERS, AND RELEASING THEM BACK INTO FORESTS WHERE THEY WERE ONCE FOUND. THE HARPY EAGLE IS CONSIDERED TO BE "NEARLY EXTINCT" IN CENTRAL AMERICA. DEFORESTATION COUPLED WITH UNFORTUNATE SHOOTINGS, HAS LED TO THIS UNFORTUNATE PROFILE. THE BHERP IS WORKING TO RESTORE THIS MAGNIFICENT SPECIES BACK INTO ITS FORMER RANGE. HAVING SEEN THE RELEASED EAGLES IN THE WILD, I AM FILLED WITH AN EXTREME AMOUNT OF PRIDE AND SATISFACTION - I GUESS THIS IS A HIGHLIGHT I LIVE WITH ALL THE TIME, LUCKY ME!.

2. THE BELIZE ZOO JAGUAR REHABILITATION PROGRAM. BETWEEN THE YEARS 2002-2004, OVER 60 JAGUARS, CONSIDERED TO BE "PROBLEM JAGUARS", WERE SHOT. THESE CATS WERE PREYING UPON DOMESTIC ANIMALS AND LIVESTOCK. THE BELIZE ZOO OFFERED A PROGRAM AIMED AT REDUCING SOME OF THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF THIS DIFFICULT SITUATION. WE REALIZE THAT THE JAGUAR REHABILITATION PROGRAM IS NO SOLUTION TO THE "PROBLEM JAGUAR" ISSUE WHICH IS OF MAJOR CONCERN TO MANY IN BELIZE, BUT IT DOES PROVIDE SOME POSITIVE INPUT INTO AN EXTREMELY HARD CONFLICT WHICH THE NATION IS FACING. BASICALLY:

A) CATS ARE SAFELY TRAPPED AND TRANSFERRED TO AN OFF-EXHIBIT AREA AT THE ZOO.

B) CATS UNDERGO "REHAB" AND BECOME "PEOPLE FRIENDLY" ANIMALS, I.E. THEY FORM A BOND WITH PEOPLE, AS OPPOSED TO VIEWING THE HUMAN SPECIES AS A THREAT.

C) CATS EVENTUALLY ARE TRANSFERRED TO APPROVED ZOOLOGICAL FACILITIES WHERE THEY PROVIDE IMPORTANT GENES INTO THE CAPTIVE POPULATION, ONE WHICH IS LACKING IN HEALTHY GENETICS.

D) THE ZOOS RECEIVING THESE CATS PROVIDE STRONG EDUCATION MESSAGES TO THEIR VISITORS ABOUT THE NATURAL HISTORY OF THE JAGUAR, AS WELL AS THE "PROBLEM JAGUAR" ISSUE AFFECTING BELIZE AND NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES. ALSO, THE ZOOS ARE REQUIRED TO PROVIDE FUNDS TO JAGUAR FIELD RESEARCH WITHIN THE HOME RANGE OF THESE PROBLEM CATS.

E) SO, THE JAGUARS, AS OPPOSED TO BEING SHOT OR POISONED, FACE A BRIGHT FUTURE INSTEAD OF NO FUTURE AT ALL. PEOPLE BECOME BETTER EDUCATED ABOUT THE PROBLEM JAGUAR ISSUE, AND IMPORTANT FIELD RESEARCH IS EMPOWERED. ALSO!! NO FUNDS ARE RECEIVED FOR THE CATS WHICH HAVE UNDERGONE THIS PROGRAM. IT IS TOTALLY A CONSERVATION PROGRAM, ONE WHICH WE WORK WITH IN CONCERT WITH THE GOVERNMENT OF BLEIZE, AND THE FIRST OF ITS KIND. THIS PROBLEM JAGUAR REHABILITATION PROGRAM MAKES ALL OF US AT THE BELIZE ZOO FEEL VERY PROUD. AND A DEFINITE HIGHLIGHT FOR ME.

3. I AM EMPOWERED IN SPIRIT EVERYDAY JUST BY WORKING WITH THE FINE STAFF HERE. OVER 20 OF THE COOLEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD MAKE UP THE WORK FORCE AT THE BELIZE ZOO. I FEEL PRIVELEGED TO WORK ALONG WITH THEM.

BELIZEmagazine.com: Can you tell us a highlight of your personal life?

Sharon Matola: THIS IS A DIFFICULT QUESTION BECAUSE THERE HAVE BEEN SO MANY HIGHLIGHTS, JUST IMPOSSIBLE TO SINGLE OUT ONE! ALSO, I AM SO VERY LUCKY THAT MY PERSONAL LIFE AND PROFESSIONAL LIFE ARE CLOSELY INTERLINKED. THE GREAT EXPERIENCES WHICH HAVE HAPPENED DUE TO MY CHOSEN LIFE HERE IN BELIZE, CROSS OVER BETWEEN WHO I AM PROFESSIONALLY AS WELL AS WHO I AM ON A PERSONAL LEVEL. I SIMPLY LOVE WHAT I DO HERE!

BELIZEmagazine.com: Having an occupation as the zoo director it is obviously demanding, both mentally and physical. What do you do to keep in shape? What is your favourite past-time occupation?

Sharon Matola: STARTING THE ZOO AND DEVELOPING IT HAS BEEN A CONSTANT DEMANDING CHALLENGE. AND YES, IT IS IMPORTANT TO STAY IN SHAPE TO MEET THESE DEMANDS. I'VE ALWAYS BEEN ATHLETIC AND HAVE BEEN DOING YOGA FOR OVER 20 YEARS, AS WELL AS OTHER PHYSICAL EXERCISES - WEIGHT LIFTING AND WALKING AND SWIMMING. I FEEL LUCKY, ONCE AGAIN, THAT I REALLY ENJOY THESE THINGS, AND LOOK UPON THE EXERCISE PART OF MY LIFE AS FUN, NOT SOMETHING I "SHOULD BE DOING". IT IS GREAT FUN TO MOVE!!

MY OTHER PART TIME OCCUPATION IS THAT I AM VERY INVOLVED WITH MUSIC. I AM A RADIO PRESENTER FOR THE BRITISH FORCES BROADCASTING SERVICES, BFBS, AND HAVE BEEN WORKING FOR THEM FOR OVER 10 YEARS. I ALSO HAVE PRODUCED RADIO PROGRAMS FOR LOCAL STATIONS IN BELIZE ABOUT OUR NATURAL RESOURCES, SPECIFICALLY, THE PLANTS AND ANIMALS FOUND IN BELIZE, AND A PROGRAM, TOO, CENTERED AROUND BIRDS OF PREY.

I ALSO WORK AT THE COMMUNITY PRE-SCHOOL. I WRITE SONGS ABOUT ANIMALS AND CONSERVATION AND TEACH THE KIDS THERE, AGES 3 AND 4, TO SING THESE SONGS. THEY OFTEN COME TO THE BELIZE ZOO AND SING TO THE ANIMALS – AND THEY ARE FAMOUS! THEY HAVE HAD THE FUN EXPERIENCE OF LEARNING SONGS, SINGING TO ANIMALS AND AT TIMES, WATCHING THEMSELVES ON LOCAL TELEVISION - THEY ARE FEATURED AT VARIOUS ZOO EVENTS, SINGING THE SONGS I HAVE TAUGHT THEM. I PLAY THE GUITAR, THEY SING, WE ROCK!

BELIZEmagazine.com: What is the greatest outdoor adventure you ever experienced in Belize?

Sharon Matola: I HAVE HAD MANY! I'VE CLIMBED VICTORIA PEAK 6 TIMES, I'VE LED 4 EXPEDITIONS TO THE HIGHEST AREA IN BELIZE, DOYLE'S DELIGHT, ALL WITH THE COMPANY OF INCREDIBLE SCIENTISTS AND GOOD FRIENDS. THE 5 YEARS I SPENT STUDYING THE ECOLOGY OF THE SCARLET MACAW ON THE RASPACULO RIVER REMAINS EXTREMELY SPECIAL TO ME.

BELIZEmagazine.com: What is your most favourite Belizean food dish? What are your most favorite locally grown fruit and the most favourite vegetable?

Sharon Matola: LIKE EVERYONE LIVING IN BELIZE, I LOVE RICE AND BEANS. ALL THE LOCAL TROPICAL FRUITS I ENJOY, AND THE VEGETABLES. FOOD ISN'T A BIG DEAL TO ME, SO "FAVOURITE FOOD" ISN'T SOMETHING I FACTOR INTO MY LIFE EQUATION.....

BELIZEmagazine.com: Have you ever had the luck to see any of Belize's exotic wildlife such as a jaguar, tapir or the like? Have you ever been bitten by a scorpion, snake or spider?

Sharon Matola: I'VE SEEN JAGUARS IN THE WILD, LUCKY ME. I HAD A JAGUAR VISIT MY TENT ONE NIGHT WHILE ON AN EXPEDITION TO LOOK AT POSSIBLE NESTING AREAS FOR THE SCARLET MACAW IN THE COCKSCOMB BASIN. THE MOON WAS FULL AND THE CAT CAME RIGHT TO THE TENT AND PAWED THE GROUND! I REMEMBER THINKING THAT I TRULY HOPE THE LITERATURE WAS CORRECT, THAT THERE "NEVER HAS BEEN AN INCIDENT OF A JAGUAR ATTACKING A HUMAN".....THIS WAS INDEED A VERY CURIOUS JAGUAR, BUT OBVIOUSLY READ THE LITERATURE AND KNEW I WAS NOT AN ARMADILLO OR PECCARY........A GREAT EXPERIENCE! I'VE SEEN SO MUCH WILDLIFE DURING MY VISITS INTO THE REMOTE AREAS OF FOREST IN BELIZE. THIS HAS ALWAYS REINFORCED MY WORK AIMED AT SEEING THAT HABITAT REMAINS FOR THE ANIMALS OF BELIZE. I'VE BEEN BITTEN BY SCORPIONS AND HAVE BEEN BITTEN BY NON-POISONOUS SNAKES. NO BIG DEAL, ANY OF IT. AND I'VE BEEN BITTEN, PLENTY, BY THE ANIMALS HERE AT THE ZOO! HOWEVER, I WAS ONCE A LION TAMER. THE ROMANIAN LION TAMER WHO TRAINED ME GAVE ME THE BEST WARNING AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS ODD OCCUPATION: "IF YOU HAVE A FULL LENGTH MIRROR (YES, I DID), THEN GO HOME, TAKE OFF ALL OF YOUR CLOTHES IN FRONT OF IT, LOOK YOURSELF IN THE EYE AND SAY THIS: IF I WORK WITH WILD ANIMALS, IM GOING TO HAVE SCARS....AND IF THAT DOESN'T BOTHER YOU, SHOW UP TOMORROW AT 8 AM." I SHOWED UP AT 7:30........

BELIZEmagazine.com: Which of the Maya archaeological sites in Belize have you visited? Which site was the most fascinating for you?

Sharon Matola: I LED TOURS FOR FIVE YEARS WHEN WE WERE WORKING TO ESTABLISH THE BELIZE ZOO SO HAVE VISITED QUITE A FEW OF THE MAYA SITES IN BELIZE. I LOVE THEM ALL.

BELIZEmagazine.com: What are the top three books we should all read in our lifetime?

Sharon Matola: GOOD QUESTION. THE BOOKS WHICH HAVE MADE AN IMPACT ON ME I WOULD RECOMMEND TO THE WORLD TO READ: ANIMAL FARM, CHARLOTTE'S WEB, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, AND MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS. AND OF COURSE, IF ONE LIVES IN BELIZE, DON'T MISS THE CHILDREN'S BOOK SERIES, "HOODWINK THE OWL"......

BELIZEmagazine.com: Who would be on your list of favourite Belizean artists, writers or musicians? Who would be on your list of favourite non-Belizean artists, writers or musicians? What kind of music do you like to listen to?

Sharon Matola: I REALLY LIKE THE WILDLIFE ART I HAVE SEEN DISPLAYED IN VARIOUS PLACES, KATIE STEVENS AND JUAN ESQUIVEL COME TO MIND ON THAT ONE...PABLO COLLADO IS A VERY GIFTED MUSICIAN AND I LISTEN TO MUSIC DAILY, VERY MIXED ON THAT ONE! BEETHOVEN, MOZART, JOHN WILLIAMS, CARLOS SANTANA, JIMI HENDRIX ARE MY VERY MOST FAVOURITE. I AM A BIG FAN OF KANYE WEST, JOSS STONE, NORAH JONES, BB KING, STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN, THE KAISER CHIEFS, YEAH YEAH YEAHS, JAMIRIQUAI AND THE ROLLING STONES. PLEASE DON'T LEAVE OUT DIRE STRAITS! THERE'S MORE, BUT THIS IS MY "GOLD LIST"!!

BELIZEmagazine.com: How would you answer the question "What is Belizean Culture?"

Sharon Matola: WHATEVER GETS PEOPLE DANCING IN THE STREETS IS BELIZEAN CULTURE.

BELIZEmagazine.com: Belize is so ecologically diverse with abundant natural beauty.
What do you consider to be the most beautiful spot in all of Belize?

Sharon Matola: THE MOST BEAUITFUL SPOT TO ME IS THE BELIZE ZOO. I'VE BEEN EVERYWHERE IN THE COUNTRY, I FIND THIS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SPACE IN BELIZE.

BELIZEmagazine.com: What is your favourite vacation spot outside of Belize?

Sharon Matola: IF I AM WITH FRIENDS, WITH CLAUDIA AND HER LITTLE GIRL, ARLA, OR WITH MY FRIEND ZOE, WHO IS NEARLY FIVE YEARS OLD NOW, OR MY BROTHER AND SISTER, I COULD BE ANYWHERE AND IT BECOMES MY "FAVOURITE VACATION SPOT". I HAVE BEEN VERY LUCKY TO HAVE HAD THE CHANCE TO TRAVEL TO MANY DIFFERENT PLACES - BUT ITS THE PEOPLE ONE IS WITH THAT MAKES THE PLACE SPECIAL......

BELIZEmagazine.com: What would you consider to be the greatest asset of Belize? What do you consider the biggest challenge for Belize and Belizeans in the 21st century?

Sharon Matola: CLEARLY, THE GREATEST ASSET BELIZE HAS ARE THE SPECIAL NATURAL RESOURCES. SO MUCH OF THE UNIQUE WILDLIFE ROAMING OUR LAND HAS BEEN REDUCED, EVEN DRIVEN TO EXTINCTION IN OTHER PARTS OF THE REGION, IF WE CAN MAINTAIN THE HABITAT WHICH SUSTAINS OUR SPECIAL FLORA AND FAUNA, IF WE CAN MEET THIS DEMANDING CHALLENGE, WE WILL REMAIN A STRONG NATION, AS WE GO FORWARD IN THE FUTURE. ALSO, THE BELIZE BARRIER REEF IS A UNIQUE RESOURCE WHICH NEEDS CAREFUL GUARDING. UNCHECKED DEVELOPMENT IS THREATENING TO CAUSE HARM TO THE REEF, AND THIS VALUABLE ASSET IS A TREASURE FOR OUR NATION.

BELIZEmagazine.com: Where do you see yourself professionally in ten years?

Sharon Matola: I DON'T SEE MYSELF CHANGING GEARS. MY LIFE KEEPS ME BUSY, HAPPY AND SATISFIED. SO I GUESS, AS THEY SAY, "IF IT AIN'T BROKE, DON'T FIX IT".......I'LL BE TEN YEARS OLDER, STILL DOING WHAT I'M DOING.......

BELIZEmagazine.com: What would you most want someone reading this interview to remember about what Sharon Matola of the Belize Zoo has to say?

Sharon Matola: I WOULD LIKE ANYONE READING THIS TO KNOW THAT THEY ARE READING AN INTERVIEW GIVEN BY ONE OF THE HAPPIEST PEOPLE ON THE PLANET. ME. I AM SO PROUD OF THE BELIZE ZOO AND WHAT IT HAS GIVEN TO SO MANY PEOPLE, I AM REINFORCED DAILY ABOUT THE SIGNIFICANT IMPACT THIS FACILITY HAS HAD, FOR THE WILDLIFE OF BELIZE, AND FOR THE WONDERFUL PEOPLE OF THIS EXTREMELY SPECIAL NATION. COLOUR ME HAPPY.


http://belizemagazine.com/edition11/english/e11_04questions.htm

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#21636 - 09/25/06 09:04 AM Re: Interview with Sharon Matola, Director of the Belize Zoo
Laguna Punta Offline
Thanks, Marty...for this interview. I have visited the Belize Zoo several times and find the staff and animals all very happy campers. The animals all have their own special personalities.
_________________________
Gone fishing!!

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#21637 - 09/26/06 08:28 AM Re: Interview with Sharon Matola, Director of the Belize Zoo
Chachacoconut Offline
smile What a great Lady !
_________________________
Life is short, Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love Truly, Laugh uncontrollably.

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