Last week Love News broke the story of Big Red- the scarlet macaw that was confiscated from Belize Bird Rescue, BBR, and handed over to Tony Garell of Harvest Caye. BBR has written to CEO Dr. Percival Cho but we understand that he has yet to respond. In that letter, BBR tells CEO Cho that Harvest Caye is not the best place for the scarlet macaw to be held in captivity and display. A section of the environmental community, specifically those which deal with birds, has begun expressing concerns over the matter. The Belize Zoo forms part of a working group specifically tasked with protecting Belize’s bird and addressing issues such as Big Red’s confiscation. Education Officer, Jamal Andrewin, expressed the zoo’s concerns.
“The concern is that this Macaw that was apparently not assessed by anyone outside of Belize Bird Rescue was deemed non releasable when the people that have been caring for it since October of 2016 have been adamant and asserted that the bird is indeed a releasable candidate so they as well as us as their colleagues and other people who have heard the story have raised concerns as to why it was then deemed non releasable and sent to Harvest Caye for long term captivity.”
“So you would say that Harvest Caye maybe the worst possible place to have this Scarlet Macaw?”
“Given what the bird needs in terms of its biology, natural history being in captivity it’s very hard to see a situation where they could provide these things for the bird on this caye so it is not, the concern right now is that it is not the ideal situation for this bird there are many different options that could have been taken for a better future for this bird if it is indeed non releasable and the fact that this one was taken under consideration as the primary candidate is what is very troubling to us in the wildlife field. It’s definitely not any secret that Harvest Caye has long been planning a display, a zoo of sorts, it’s on their website, it’s been many conversations so it’s not quite, even if you visit the website it is very much obvious that they have other wildlife; toucans are prominent in their displays so yes the concern is that it would be a continued practice. Even people who have brought their concerns to us being leaders in the wildlife field, the public as well as our colleagues the question is what’s next? People are fearful and are speculating about what other wildlife species will be added to the collection on Harvest Caye.”
Since last week this media house has been trying to get some answers from the officials from the Forest Department however our attempts have not yielded any answers. We did call the Chief Forest Officer, Wilbur Sabido, today and he told us that he is unable to comment on the matter since he was on holiday last week which is when Forest Officer Edgar Correa and Tony Garrell went to BBR to confiscate Big Read. He told us to contact Marcelo Winsor who is his deputy but our calls have gone unanswered. Andrewin said they are also being given the run around.
“There have been discussions and we have been basically looking at a way forward to take another step to decide what needs to be done in terms of discussion or responding to the situation and basically getting answers that not only the working group members or individuals or people in the field want but now the public and of course the media, everyone would like some concrete answers and some clarification on why this was the approach that was taken.”
“Would you say, because the Belize Zoo is part of this group that it was disrespected by the forest department because I believe it was the forest department that gave the go ahead to confiscate ‘Big Red’ from BBR.”
“So as you all know you haven’t received a word from forest, none of us have received direct communication we have yet to approach forestry on the matter so it hasn’t been clarified but it is very much a concern that this was completely passed over the working group and or just individuals for consultation or even suggestion so yes until we get those answers it’s a very strong point of concern for us and it is very troubling and that is what we will be looking at clarifying as soon as possible.”
Our attempts to get a comment from the CEO Percival Cho have also been unsuccessful.