'The Belize Zoo', has been struggling to get back on its feet ever since Hurricane Richard set the World's Best Little Zoo'expansion program back by months.
Donations came in from all over the world, but never entirely enough for Zoo officials to keep up with the pace of rebuilding and PUTTING the country's only zoological park squarely back on its feet.
The majority of its donors, big and small, are made up of young men like Yuvraj Duggal, a 16year old Indian-American who visited Belize last summer and fell in love with the Zoo. Duggal returned to his hometown of Chicago, where he embarked on a personal fundraising drive to raise money to assist in the rehabilitation of some of the damaged habitats caused by the 2010 hurricane. On December 2nd, Duggal presented a check totalling over 22 Thousand Belize dollars to the Zoo's Director, Sharon Matola. Matola told 7 News today, Duggal's donation is being put to great use.
Sharon Matola, Director Belize Zoo
"He was a remarkable fellow. He came to the zoo and he spent some time working here and fell in love with the Belize Zoo especially with the jaguars with Junior Buddy and he wanted to do something for us which compels him to return back to his home in Chicago to raise money which he did and he presented us with a fabulous cheque of $22,000.00 on the 2nd of December."
"How important is this donation to the zoo?"
"It's critically important, we have been wanting to improve and expand our problem jaguar rehab facility. We haven't been able to do that mainly because we have been still picking up from the effects of Hurricane Richard, so everything else has been taken as a back burner and then here come Mr. Duggal with his fabulous donation and it has allowed us to do the rejuvenation work that we wanted to do back there."
"Have you rebounded fully from Hurricane Richard?"
"We are really looking great after that. It was devastating since. But we manage to all pull together. There are a lot of people in Belize involved helping us get back on our feet. If you recall we did open 44 days after we were destroyed, so that's pretty remarkable. Right now we are looking great. We have definitely turn that lemon into a lemonade."
In an interview Wednesday, with the Indiawest newspaper, Duggal said he raised a substantial amount of the money by participating in a local vegetarian food festival, "Veggie Fest 2011", where he manned a booth to collect contributions and raise awareness about the Belize Zoo and its Jaguar program.