Christmas is a time of sharing, giving and receiving and the Belize Zoo received an early Christmas gift. Sixteen-year-old, Yuvraj Duggal who visited the Belize Zoo for summer fell in love with the place and managed to raise $22,000 for the Belize Zoo.
Yuvraj was in Belize for summer and was in the country to learn about politics and how the US embassy functions. Yuvraj was to become the shadow of Ambassador Vinai Thummalapally for a week, he stayed at the Ambassador’s home and learn how the embassy operates, went to meetings in the embassy with Thummalapally and learned what his job was like. During this time Yuvraj had many other fun activities including a visit the Belize Zoo.
It was during this visit that Yuvraj heard about how a hurricane during the 2010 hurricane season damaged all the habitats at the zoo. “I knew that I wanted to help rebuild them,” Duggal said. “There are a lot of endangered species that had habitats harmed and I wanted to help how I could.”
Even though Thummalapally’s job is to make sure the relations between Belize and the United States are good, Yuvraj said he likes to spend his free time doing many community service projects. “Me and the ambassador got to do a lot of cool community service projects when I was there, which was fun to help out since it is a developing country,” Yuvraj said.
When Yuvraj returned to his hometown of Chicago, he decided to raise money to support the Zoo. Among other projects, he participated 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. He was extraordinarily successful, and returned to Belize to deliver in person the money he raised.
On Friday, December 2, a grand celebration was held in honor of Yuvraj Duggal’s great achievement at the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center at 29.5 Miles Western Highway. Yuvraj Duggal officially presented his donation of $22,000 which will go towards the Problem Jaguar Rehabilitation Program.
The Belize Zoo will use the funds towards its Problem Jaguar Rehabilitation Program. The program offers a home for jaguars which have come in conflict with local residents as their natural habitat is being developed and used for raising livestock. The program offers these endangered animals “another chance.” It also aims to educate the public about these large cats through outreach to schools and communities around Belize.