BELIZE DISTRICT, Sun. Mar. 21, 2021– The country of Belize is mourning the loss of a trailblazer, beloved environmentalist, and humble founder of our exquisite Belize Zoo. About thirty-eight years ago, Sharon Matola took on the herculean task of creating the Belize Zoo 29 miles off a beaten path on the then Western Highway.
The rest is history.
Matola devoted her life to the development of the Belize Zoo and the protection of wildlife across the country of Belize. Her work as an environmentalist and biologist within the country opened the eyes of Belizeans to the wealth of diverse wildlife our country has to offer and has shed a beacon of light on the Jewel.
The Belize Zoo is now the pride and joy of the country. Visitors from around the world travel miles to see the wildlife that reside within the habitats that have been created at the Belize Zoo — animals that have been raised and loved by Sharon for all these years.
On Sunday, the Belize Zoo officially announced the passing of its founder, Sharon Matola. She died at St. Luke’s Hospital in Belmopan earlier that day.
Since the news surfaced on the pages of social media, a wellspring of condolences has been constantly flowing to the friends and family of Matola. The news of her death shocked the nation to its core.
“Sharon Matola was a pioneer in many regards, from her work bringing the beloved Belize Zoo as we know it to life, to her work at the Tropical Education Center, teaching care for and conservation of our national treasures. You are dearly missed, but your work will continue through those you’ve inspired. “ Prime Minister John Briceño said after learning of Matola’s death.
“Sharon, you inspired my kids and had a profound impact on their environmental consciousness. I’m certain you did the same for countless Belizean children,” Dr. Omar Figueroa, former Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change, remarked.
The US Embassy in Belize commented, “We honor Sharon for her vision and passionate commitment to protecting Belize’s precious natural treasures. Her legacy will live on in the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center that she founded 38 years ago and in the countless lives that she changed for the better.”
In a public statement, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science, and Technology said, “Ms. Sharon Matola. A champion of environmental conservation and education in Belize, Ms. Matola was recognizably the driving force behind the establishment of our world-renowned Belize Zoo. Her efforts have allowed generations of Belizean children the opportunity to explore a stunning array of our country’s flora and fauna. We lift her up in memory and pray that her family and friends be comforted by the outpouring of love and appreciation from Belizeans at home and abroad.”
Amandala joins the country in mourning the loss of a visionary and champion for our Belizean wildlife. We extend our deepest condolences to the friends and family of the late Sharon Matola. May she rest in peace.