16 year old Chicago student raises $22,000 for Belize Zoo

A sixteen year old volunteer has raised a hefty sum for the Belize Zoo. Yuvraj Duggal of Chicago went back to the US and became involved in a number of projects to raise both money and awareness of the jaguar rehabilitation program of the zoo. This afternoon he was honored for his initiative. News Five’s Jose Sanchez reports.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

A recent visitor to Belize, a minor and a Chicago native fell in love and went door to door to raise funds for the Belize Zoo.

Sharon Matola, Founding Director, Belize Zoo

Sharon Matola

“A lot of people talk about raising funds and helping the zoo but few people come through like this guy here. And we were so happy and astounding when we heard that twenty-two thousand dollars. My goodness, we want to hire him as our permanent fundraiser.”

Sharon Matola, Founding Director of the Belize Zoo, said to show that the establishment was head over heels about the donation; a group of tumblers literally expressed her sentiment.

Sharon Matola

“All I just want to say is we’re head over heels, but I want these guys to show you just how head over heels we are.”

Yuvraj Duggal

Yuvraj Duggal arrived this evening from the U.S. to hand over the cheque.

Yuvraj Duggal, Raised $22,000 for Zoo

“I’m sixteen and I’m from Chicago. I came to Belize. It’s great to be back for the second time—I came five months ago and visited the zoo. When I came, I was so deeply touched by everyone—genuine people here, so kindhearted and they were just fantastic to be around with; especially Tony and Umberto helped me very much. They showed me around the zoo. Hurricane Richard came in and had done so much damage to the zoo and I found in my heart that I had to do something to help rebuild the zoo; especially the part of the zoo that had been closed off. When I came back, my church was having a large festival called veggie fest. And I was able to set up a booth and raise awareness for the Belize zoo there. And the amount of people that came and helped and they were kind and wanted to help. They wanted to know more and wanted information and websites and pamphlets. I raised about over twenty-five hundred dollars there. I went around the neighborhood and even they generously gave money and so did close family and friends. It really got me going; I thought I should make ten thousand dollars U.S. I went to more family and friends; they were telling other people and people were coming to me asking if they can donate. In the end my school in Chicago, they came and they were willing to donate a large amount of money to help for the fund. In the end I was able to break my goal.”

Vinai Thummalapally

Vinai Thummalapally, U.S. Ambassador

“It was not so easy as he made it sound. He was knocking on many doors and I have to share a very sort of humorous anecdote. He came back after having a fifteen minutes conversation with a particular homeowner who opened the door only slightly to talk to Yuvraj and was not so keen in continuing this conversation because jaguar, Belize—where is it somewhere out there; in Africa maybe. So anyways he had a great conversation and came back to the car where dad was patiently waiting and said dad I feel so proud because this guy was so stingy but I got five dollars out of him.”

Manmohan Duggal, Father of Yuvraj

Manmohan Duggal

“He’s a man in a little boy’s body. So I think it’s an honor we can come here and Yuvraj can make a difference. I think life goes through ups and downs for everyone and I think it’s good that aour kids learn to give back to the society.”

Jasmine Ramos

Jasmine Ramos, Rep., Forest Department

“Because of this remarkable guy, I decide to myself and on behalf of the forest department and pantera, I’d like to present to you this poster of the central Belize wildlife corridor to keep as a souvenir from Belize.”

Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

The Jaguar Rehab Program provides shelter for jaguars who have been displaced due to development of their habitat for livestock.

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