, the Managing Director of Belize Lodge and Excursions (Ballum Na Lodge’s parent company), laid the blame for the condition of the jaguar on the shoulders of the manager who was left in charge, accusing the unnamed person of misusing the funds provided to him for the care and feeding of the animals. Karas said that when his resort closed operations at the end of May as is usually the case, staff were left to care for the animals. Karas claims that the manager was provided with a weekly budget for feeding the animals and that as far as he knew the animals were being taken care of. Karas went on to say that this arrangement has been the norm over the last ten years, with the manager sending him weekly reports, however the manager neglected to inform him of the health issues or that they were not being fed. The Belize Lodge and Excursions boss, in his online statement, said that he only learned of the condition of the animals at Ballum Na on Saturday, when one of the company’s former employees contacted him. The release from Kenneth Karas ends by saying, “I deeply regret what has happened and we are currently working with the Forestry Department and a vet to stabilize the animal and move it to the Belize Zoo.”
According to as yet unconfirmed reports, the lodge, which is actually a group of several different jungle and island lodges on more than 13,000 acres in Toledo, is believed to never have been successful as a tourism business. Allegations are that the establishment recently ran into financial problems and reportedly let most of its employees go, with the jaguars and other animals, including monkeys and birds, apparently left unattended and in captivity. There have also been reports that at least 28 employees of the lodge from Indian Creek village, along with employees from other Maya villages in the area have said that they had not been paid by the lodge in from two months to as much as a year.
Belize Lodge and Excursions has an address in Washington, DC that appears to be a drop box at a law firm. Apparently the lodge had permits to keep the jaguars at the lodge, which they claim were born in captivity, however this raises some questions as to what permits were in hand to allow them to keep jaguars on site since the pet permit application available for download at the Belize Forestry Department’s very own website clearly states that Jaguars fall under ‘Category 2: Felines’ of “Animals that cannot be held as pets”, along with other felines which are the Mountain Lions a.k.a. Pumas or Cougars, Ocelots, Margays and Jaguarundi. Not surprisingly the company website has since been taken down.
The San Pedro Sun will follow the developments of this story and provide further details about those responsible and any charges that would come as a result of the complete and utter neglect of Lucky Boy and the other animals that they were to be taking care of.
You can follow Lucky Boy’s progress on the Belize Zoo’s Facebook Page as they have promised to regularly post updates and photos of his recovery and progress on his way back to full health.