Ouida James takes an annual trip with each of her four grown children to have some individual quality time. This time, Travis, her youngest son, chose Belize to spend time with Mom and it is going down in family history as a very special trip. Whilst at Lamanai, Ouida and Travis did more than be attentive eco-tourists, but went beyond to participate in ongoing research projects, helping to collect data, and even visited with some of the local landowners as part of our community conservation project geared toward protecting wildcats and their prey. But, perhaps what stood out most for the family was their visit to the local school to accompany us on a part of our conservation awareness campaign to educate villagers who live in areas also sharing the landscape with wildlife. The children were eager to hear what folks from Zoo Miami and us had to say and were thrilled to see and even pet a live juvenile crocodile. Many of the youngsters had never before seen a real crocodile despite living in the New River area where Morelet’s crocodiles call their home. Ouida, a burgeoning philanthropist, was touched by the children’s curiosity and the work we are trying to do to engage locals in wildlife conservation.
During their time with us, Ouida and Travis were keen to learn more about the world of wildlife ecology and the dynamics of the human element in effective conservation. These experiences opened their eyes to a whole new world and also provided opportunities for the mother and son pair to bond, creating lasting memories. It was also our pleasure to share what we know with the James’ and we look forward to keeping in contact with them. LFRC has made new friends.