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Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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Over two thousand acres of land in Democracia Village is being named the Sharon Matola Wildlife Sanctuary in honor of the late Sharon Matola. Her work as a biologist, environmentalist and zookeeper began in Belize in 1981. She went on to establish the Belize Zoo, now considered internationally as the best little zoo in the world. Today, Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, the Area Representative for Belize Rural Central, announced the amalgamation of seven hundred acres of land that the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center sits on and seventeen hundred acres of land given to Matola as a deed gift back in 1988, to form the

Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Area Representative, Belize Rural Central

On the tenth of May back in 1988, these names are familiar, Walter Mischer, Paul Howell, Barry Bowen, and the Coca Company, by a deed of gift, gifted seventeen hundred and twenty five acres to the government and people of Belize, again by deed of gift, for the exclusive use of the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center. In the convince I have in my hands, we are familiar with conveyance, us lawyers, and it goes on and on and has many acknowledgement and date remembered, but the main content of this deed of gift is that it is for the people of Belize. One little glitch is that the agreement that was made in the recitals of this conveyance was never made completely cemented. So, the request coming from the personnel of the Belize Zoo is that we should do so. I am very pleased to say that the government to formalize the arrangement, that those seventeen hundred and twenty five acres will join along with the nine hundred and twenty five acres that the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center now occupy, and it will form a total, if our math is correct, of two thousand six hundred and fifty acres. So madam speaker, I am happy to say that Government has agreed to merge these two parcels of land and that it be called, in its totality, the Sharon Matolla Wildlife Sanctuary.

The Importance of the Sharon Matola Wildlife Sanctuary

And this afternoon at the Belize Zoo, friends and colleagues of the late Sharon Matola gathered to celebrate her legacy in wildlife conservation.� Her successor, Celso Poot, is the director of the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center. He also spoke about the importance of the Sharon Matola Wildlife Sanctuary.

Celso Poot , Director, The Belize Zoo

"So together with the nine hundred and forty-five acres the zoo already owns, you look that way, you look this way, you look that way and all the way to the highway will become the Sharon Matola Wildlife Sanctuary.� This is an important piece of land and obviously, as I said, it's been a work in the making since 1984.� Sharon was a visionary, she saw this.� Notes that I found when this land was discussed back in 1984 talked of propagating a site for the breeding of our national animal, the Central American tapir.� Camera traps on this property by the University of Belize's Environmental Research Institute, and Panthera shows that not only tapirs live here, you have jaguars, you have pumas, you have the white-lipped peccary.� We also have the yellow-headed parrot nesting all over this land and so it's an important part.� Most of you have heard of the Central Belize Corridor, the Central Biological Corridor, now the Maya Forest Corridor, so it has evolved.� And this piece of land, this piece of property is but an island within the Maya Forest Corridor.� It is the only piece of land that has protected forests on both sides of the highway, so it's critical, it's important for migrating animals moving between the southern and northern forests in Belize."

Channel 5

Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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The Belize Zoo & Tropical Education Center (TBZTEC) is pleased to announce Belize's newest protected area, the Sharon Matola Wildlife Sanctuary!

This protected area, which will encompass more than 2,600 acres of land around TBZTEC, was officially declared during the June 3rd sitting of the House of Representatives, and further endorsed by Government of Belize officials during a celebration at the Zoo later that day.

Plans are also underway to formalize the Sharon Matola Scholarship Fund, which will provide support for young Belizean women studying at the tertiary level in Natural Resources Management, Biology, Veterinary Technology, and associated fields. An anonymous donor has pledged US$5,000 as a matching seed fund* for the scholarship.

Sharon Matola Day, celebrated publicly on June 4th, was very well attended by over 230 Belizeans, many of whom arrived with in-kind donations of fresh fruit, veggies, and meat.

A newly unveiled, permanent plaque recognizing Sharon as the visionary and driving force behind "the best little zoo in the world" is now on display in the Zoo's entrance corridor for all to see.

We look forward to many more celebrations with our visitors and supporters as we continue to keep her legacy alive.

*(Those interested in providing matching donations to the Sharon Matola Scholarship Fund can contact The Belize Zoo for more information).

Photo courtesy: Milagro Garel
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TBZTEC Director, Celso Poot, with Prime Minister of Belize, Hon. John Brice�o. Photo courtesy: Ministry of Sustainable Dev. Climate Change & Disaster Risk Management
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Photo courtesy: Ministry of Sustainable Dev. Climate Change & Disaster Risk Management
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