One of the star attractions at the Belize Zoo is the Jaguar, and an important event which celebrates this prized predator took place on Monday. It's called the Central Belize Jaguar Corridor! In the wild jaguars move across a wide area known as its natural corridor, which spreads from north, through central to southern Belize. The event seeks to educate students and the broader community on the importance of maintaining and preserving that vast corridor. Like last year, an art, and essay contest for primary school students were sponsored by the Zoo. Environmental Educator at the Zoo, Jamal Andrewin says the event is an important part of the zoo's outreach program.

Jamal Andrewin, Environmental Educator at the Zoo
"What we did is go to the schools in the communities, present the importance of the jaguar and also the corridor and then we invite the upper division students to submit entries either in the form of an essay, poem or artwork. The winners are brought here to the zoo where we had a small ceremony in celebration of their pro jaguar works where we had parachuting, sky diving jaguar and also two of our staff members are dress up as jaguars for the event and then the main highlight, the students actually got to meet two jaguars close up and personal. One of them was Junior Buddy who is now an internationally renowned jaguar residing right here in the zoo. He was born and raise here at the zoo and also a former problem jaguar by the "Field Master" who had been rehabilitated and now use for public education. The whole concept of the contest is to bring to light of both the jaguar and the corridor to the people that actually live in the corridor."

"The painting we unveil was more highlighted the corridor as a biological problem not just for jaguars. Although jaguars are the flagships species - if you protect the corridor for jaguars - you protect all the other wild life and also people benefit from it. As the painting showed both people and animals have their own agendas every day going about their daily life using the corridor as a means of migration and transport - a means of sustenance and a means of shelter and comfort from day to day and it is very important. The corridor is preserved, the thousands of Belizeans that live in the corridor and also the wild life of Belize."

Johnny Valencia, Educator
"I think that throughout my 18 years of educational experiences this was of the outstanding one in the sense that we were able reiterate some of the things that we have been learning and at the same time to see the importance that we are putting into this. In addition to that I think that the whole concept of doing this is something valuable."

The winners of the contest are Wendy Pineda and Esmeralda Ramirez, both of St. Matthews Primary, and Samuel Mendez of Cotton Tree Primary.

Channel 7