Lucky Boy, once emaciated jaguar, makes a comeback
At the Belize Zoo, Lucky Boy met the media today. On the previous occasion when we reported on the black jaguar, he was severely malnourished after months of neglect while in captivity. Well Lucky Boy has made a remarkable recovery and today, he showed off his new fur as he well as his new habitat. News Five’s Delahnie Bain reports on the comeback kid and other projects that are making the zoo more user-friendly and comfortable to visitors.
Delahnie Bain, Reporting
It’s a big day at the Belize Zoo, which unveiled three major projects that have been ongoing over the past few months. The highlight, of course, was the launching of the new exhibit for Lucky Boy, the black jaguar that was rescued in July.
Sharon Matola, Founding Director, The Belize Zoo
“Lucky Boy has had a pretty hard life in the last year but now he is one happy rescued black jaguar and everybody is going to see the beautiful new home that he’s in.”
“What are some of the features of his new space?”
“Well, you call it his space; actually it looks more like a jaguar day spa. He’s got a big pool with a waterfall and lots of logs to scratch and climb and bush to crawl through. But what he likes in particular is his neighbors. He has jaguars he can touch noses with and understand that he’s not the only jaguar there and that’s really pleasing to him. And we are loving it. It’s nice to see an animal who’s had it hard, who should have had it hard and now he’s going to be an education animal and he’s just going to be a thrill for everyone to see.”
Lucky Boy was severely malnourished after being neglected in captivity at a lodge in the Toledo District. He now boasts a full coat and weighs a hundred and seventy-five pounds after five months of special care.
“It’s startling. I mean, I have to say he was in very bad shape when he got here and we just worked constantly with him. He left all his bad habits behind; he stopped fence biting, he stopped pacing, he learned how to give a high five, he learned to trust us and now we moved him to his new exhibit actually a week ago to get him used to it before the opening and he just exudes happiness. And I’m not being anthropomorphic but he just seems amazingly happy. I think he’s going to be a joy for people to see.”
The other two projects on today’s agenda were the newly renovated visitor center and handicap access pathways.
“The fundraising has been going on for a couple of years and that’s why I look so tired. The work that you see here is still ongoing, we will have the handicap access pathway throughout the whole zoo. Right now it’s about three-fourths of the way done. So it’s been going on since August, late August and the building itself late August. Our beautifully rejuvenated Gerald Durell Visitor Center. It has a new education classroom, everything is polished up and ready for schools and visitors. I’m very, very excited about the handicap access walkways that we’re standing on now; this has been a dream of ours. It’s taken a lot of fundraising to get to here but this opens up the Belize Zoo to so many Belizeans that haven’t been able to visit and appreciate the wildlife of their country. I mean they’ve been wheelchair bound or just having some type of disability that doesn’t permit them to stroll around like the rest of us and guess what, now they can. And I’m so excited for all those kids in wheelchairs that can now come to the zoo and have a rocking good time.”
The pathways will also benefit elderly visitors to the zoo as recognized by the by the National Council on Aging, which presented a certificate of appreciation to the zoo. Matola also had presentations of her own, as she launched her latest children’s book.
“I am launching a book today, Words of Wisdom from Happy the Owl. I’ve been working on that book since January. BRC just handed us the copies today and it is the best book about barn owls in the world I promise you that. I’ll give you a copy and you’ll have to agree. I’m just floored by it.”
For now, the books are only available at the zoo, but they are expected to be distributed to gift shops countrywide in the near future. Delahnie Bain for News Five.