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TAPIR TALK Digest 18 May 2000 - Vol. 4, No. 23
The Tapir Preservation Fund
The Tapir Gallery:
Tapir Talk Archives and Info:


Contents of this issue
1. Belize Zoo threatened
2. Leza Wills: Intro and request for information
3. Craig C. Downer: Protesting return of tapirs to Ba±os Zoo

Dear Tapir Talkers,

My computer was in the shop for a week (along with my mailing lists), and
I'm just getting myself organized again. We have several letters that should
have been sent last week, and a brand new one.

You can access Sharon Matola's DIRECTOR'S LETTER regarding the threat to the
Belze Zoo by a garbage dump at this web site, but it is also posted below.
For those who don't know, the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center have
had a major impact on turning conservation around in that country - and now
they are threatened with shut-down, and the situation worsens. Read on:

Web site:

At this writing, 7 May 2000, the issue of placing a Sanitary Landfill within
2 kilometers of the zoo, and 1 kilometer from the Tropical Education Center,
persists. While the Department of the Environment, under the Ministry of
Natural Resources, has stated that "the project has been temporarily
suspended while The Belize Zoo and their foreign donors can find an
appropriate alternative site for this necessary development", apparently,
this is not the case.

The Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center, with assistance from geologist
Brian Holland and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), senior
scientist, Dr.
Allen Hershkowitz, has located a possible alternative site. This site seems
of further geological and hydrogeological investigation as a landfill site.
As opposed
to the proposed site at Mile 27, this location appears to engender less
risks to public health and to the environment.

On 5 May 2000, a meeting held in Belize City between Stantec, Department of
the Environment (DOE), Inter-American Development Bank, (IDB), independent
consultant, and NRDC, resulted in clear statements that, in spite of
scientific points
directed towards the hydrogeological shortfalls of the Mile 27 project, the
above-mentioned entities, with exception of NRDC, want to proceed with this
site development.

To underscore that The Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center has valid
concern about the development of this poorly-designed Landfill, I will list
comments from the IDB independent consultant:

1. "The hydrogeology report does not meet an acceptable professional

2. "The section on geology and soils, which is of great importance to
understanding the physical suitability of the site, is incomplete".

3. "The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) document leaves many
unanswered questions with regards to the geological and hydrogeological
suitability of the property and potential impacts on the surface water
drainage system".

4. "The leachate treatment methods recommended in the report are questioned
and have not proven effective in many countries in the world. The leachate
treatment methods outlines, in the EIA, are not expected to provide adequate
leachate management and treatment and may well lead to surface water
contamination problems".

5. "A number of key questions related to the physical and hydrogeological
make up of the site have not been answered and the suitability of the site
for landfill
activities and the proposed preliminary site design are questioned in the
absence of this information".

One Landfill expert, Dr. G. Fred Lee, read the EIA for Mile 27 proposed site
and reported: "The landfill gas impacts to public health have not been
addressed in the EIA. In addition to the potential for explosions, landfill
gas typically contains a variety of chemical constituents that are hazardous
to humans and wildlife. Further, the flaring of landfill gas as proposed can
lead to dioxin formation...These issues should have been discussed in the EIA"

We are vehemently opposed to placing our zoo visitors, many of them
children, in a position of being downwind from carcinogenic gases which
would include toluene, benzene, chloroform, carbon tetrachloride, vinyl
chloride, trichloroethylene and methylene dichloride, all common landfill
air pollutants.
Furthermore, the type of landfill proposed for Belize is illegal in the
United States. Under existing United States Federal Criteria for MSW
Landfills, landfill
operators may not add liquids to waste. According to the U.S. EPA, "At this
time, EPA lacks adequate data and information on the design, operation, and
performance of bioreactor landfills to evaluate this technology". (quoted in
volume #31, dated 14 April 2000, of the Environmental Reporter) Dr. G. Fred
Lee has also stated "There can be little doubt that the Zoo and the Tropical
Education Center will be adversely impacted by the proposed Landfill".

Should this project go forward, the Tropical Education Center (TEC) may be
forced to terminate its operations. With this financial arm of The Belize Zoo
non-existent, and with the threat of disease vectors extending out from this
Landfill, The Belize Zoo may also have to cease its operations.

TBZ & TEC feels that it would be indefensible, given the hydrogeology
information available, that an entire river system would be threatened and
deadened by this project.

TBZ & TEC feels that it is socially irresponsible to threaten the public
health of the Belizean people, as well as to knowingly degrade the
environment. There is scientific evidence that these threats are real. The
following organizations stand opposed to having the proposed Sanitary
Landfill located at Mile 27:

Belize Tourist Board (BTB)
Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA)
Belize Ecotourism Association (BETA)
Belize Alliance of Conservation NGOs (BACONGO)
Sibun Watershed Association (SWA)
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
World Wildlife Fund-US (WWF-US)
Conservation International (CI)
Durrell Conservation Trust
Wildlife Preservation Trust, Int'l (WPTI)
International Expeditions
Island Expeditions
Zoological Society of Milwaukee
Foundation for Wildlife Conservation (FWC)
The Ecotourism Society

Should you wish specific information about this project, please contact
either me at or Tony Garel, at

Should you wish to protest this project, please send a letter to Hon. Said
Musa, Prime Minister of Belize, Government Buildings, Belmopan, Belize,
Central America.

Hon. John Briceno, Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Robert Kaplan,
Chief Environment And Natural Resources Management
Inter-American Development Bank
1300 New York Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20577

Ismael Fabro, Department of the Environment


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From: Leza Wills <>
To: "''" <>
Subject: tapir talk
Date: Wed, 3 May 2000 14:29:27 +0100
Return-Receipt-To: Leza Wills <>


my name is Leza wills and I work at paignton zoo in Devon. I am looking
to join this group so that I have access to a wealth of info on tapirs.

I am currently working on building an educational website on tropical
rainforests and am looking for information on tropical forest animals
one of which is tapirs so I am interested in joining this group.


Leza Wills
Web Editor - Rainforest Live
Paignton Zoo Environmental Park
Totnes road


Tel: 01803 697563
Fax: 01803 697507


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From: "craig carpenter downer" <>
Organization: Andean Tapir Fund
To: Tapir <>
Subject: Tapir Talk, criticism of returning lowland tapirs to Banos Zoo
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 20:11:04 +0100

Dear Tapir Talkers: I just returned from 6 months in
Ecuador and have learned that many professional and lay
people are upset by the fact that the lowland tapirs
who were rescued from the Banos zoo at considerable
expense have recently been returned to this zoo. The
reason is that the Tungurahua Volcano is still on
Orange alert and people as well as animals who return
there do so at high peril. I can understand why those
concerned with the Banos zoo would want these animals
returned to attract paying visitors, but must object to
this callous disregard for their well-being and their
very lives. The people who returned to Banos did so
well knowing the risks, but the tapirs who with great
difficulty were rescued from this zoo and placed in the
Quito zoo had no choice in returning to this place of
danger. It may be that they will have to be rescued
again, at considerable risk to themselves and their
human rescuers -- if they are so lucky! I consider
this a very unwise action and protest it on behalf of
the tapirs themselves.
Sincerely, Craig
Craig C. Downer
Andean Tapir Fund
P.O. Box 456, Minden, NV 89423 USA
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Sheryl Todd ~ The Tapir Gallery
President, Tapir Preservation Fund
TPF is a 501 (c) (3) charitable corporation
Tapir Talk info & archives:
IUCN/SSC Tapir Specialist Group
Deputy Chair, Tapir Specialist Group / Co-Editor TSG Newsletter
P.O. Box 1432, Palisade, CO 81526 USA
Phone (970) 464-0321 Fax (970) 464-0377
"Information and funding to assist conservation of tapirs and their habitats"