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Working Towards Owning a Zoological Center

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Shutterfox, 3 Aug 2014.

  1. Shutterfox

    Shutterfox Member

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    Well, here goes nothing! I figured a good resource would be the experienced members at ZooChat!

    My husband(a native Mexican) and I invested in some land on the Yucatan Peninsula, which is in the Riviera Maya Mexico area, not too far south from Cancun, to build a small zoological and rehabilitation center(for native species). The competing animal parks (Bel Air and CrocoCun) differ in what we hope to offer tourists and locals alike, so we feel we have a bit of a shot. The laws regarding licensing and permits are much more lenient in Mexico; the land, labor, and supplies are less expensive than in the US; and there are year-round visitors that I feel would enjoy our facility.

    The facility I am aiming towards is an interactive and educational establishment, where guests can get up-close and personal with many of our resident animals. We have about $500,000 USD in personal finances to get the place started, which we feel, with a loan and plenty of financial advising, is just enough to get the ball rolling.

    I would like to get started with a free-flight walk-through aviary and offer visitors the opportunity to feed birds at select times(Conures, Turacos, perhaps even a few Toco and Keel-Billed Toucans) along with peacocks and native deer walking about. Being that I have extensive experience(both as an owner of and professional time working with) the larger hookbills, the addition of a bird show would very much interest me as well.

    I would also love to build exhibits for Coatimundis, Tapirs, Patagonian Cavies, Kinkajous, African Crested Porcupines, and a few different species of primates such as Spider Monkeys(native to Mexico), Tamarins, Capuchins, Lemurs, and Macaques.

    We would like to have the addition of a reptile building as well, featuring various reptiles and amphibians.

    As far as ungulates are concerned, I'd like to start with the more commonly kept species such as Zebras, Antelopes, Gazelles, Camels, and Onyx.

    I feel, since I'd love to make this a more interactive zoo, it would be important to incorporate your typical "petting zoo" animals such as unique sheep species, llamas, deer, exotic cattle species, et cetera.

    As the business grows(hopefully!), I'd like to bring on additions like small carnivores such as Ocelots, African Servals, Fishing Cats, Fossas, and Cougars. Ultimately, I'd love to have Jaguars(since it is a native species) and Tigers, providing the business is thriving.

    Obviously, we couldn't simply just bring in so many species at once, so it would be an ongoing process.

    But, I'm getting way ahead of myself here! A little bit about my husband and I— My husband has lifetime experience growing up on a family farm with cattle, pigs, and horses. He started working professionally with show horses in 2001 for top leading riders and trainers in three different countries. We met at a horse show as co-workers for an Olympic rider and trainer back in 2008. I, myself, grew up with a wide variety of domestic and exotic pets alike, until I began working in the professional horse industry.

    In 2010, we settled down in Virginia, US and I took the position as a zookeeper and educational outreach manager at a nearby animal park. Aside from my zookeeper duties, I organized and supervised outreach programs ranging from school presentations, special events at the animal park, corporate functions, and local fairs and carnivals. Though my experience there was only just over four years, I gained a wealth of knowledge of the zoological industry, as the private owners took me under their wing, so to speak.

    For years, my husband and I had ambitious dreams of owning a zoological center of our own. Being that my husband is very crafty in construction and my extensive(but always learning!) knowledge in exotic animal husbandry, we decided to make this dream a reality.

    While we don't intend to begin building the park immediately, we do hope to start the process in the next 3-5 years. We have the land and we are continuously saving toward our ultimate goal.

    I am hoping for any and all advice you ZooChat members could offer me! Both encouragement and criticism is welcomed! I'd love any information you all can offer, from business advice, money management, enclosure designs, import/export companies or individuals, to any general knowledge and/or experience you can offer!

    I appreciate you taking the time to read this and I look forward to reading your responses. Thank you in advance!

    :) :) :)

     
  2. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to ZooChat Shutterfox and first of all : Great you ( and your husband ) make your dream come true !
    Beginning of this year my wife and I traveled around Yuccatan and I also guess there must be place for another zoo. However next to the 2 mentioned by you, there are of course also X-caret, several aquariums, Merida Zoo and several dolfin-holding places.
    However, by the numbers of tourists coming to Cancun ( and Yucatan ) I beliefe it should be possible to just open another !
    As you say yourself, it should however be different !
    A large walk-through aviary sounds like an good idea ( Merida also has an exelent one ) and also other walk-through enclosures for deer ( the native Yucatan brocket deer seems to be a good choise ---> starting some kind of beeding programm for this rare and prop. endangered species.
    Islands for Spider monkeys and the native subspecies of Howler monkey, walk-through enclosures for Spiny-tailed iguanas and coatis also wouldn't be bad.
    Your plan for feeding-demonstrations for parrots also is great, in Europe ( and prop. elswere as well ) Lory-feeding enclosures are very populair !
    I've lots of ideas for you but will share these in later posts with you, however still have one question, how large is the place you have avaible ?
     
  3. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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    PS : forgot the most important thing : learn Spanish ! I know from experience that going to start a new life is so more easy if you speak the native language esp. if you want to start a zoo !
     
  4. Shutterfox

    Shutterfox Member

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    Thank you for your enthusiastic response, Vogelcommando! It's nice to hear encouragement for our endeavor. Our tract of land is about 33+/- acres. My husband and I would like to build a small home and live on this land, as well.

    My Spanish speaking and reading is sufficient, but not nearly as fluent as my husband since it is his native language. We go every year to visit his family and spend time on the Yucatan Peninsula to get more information and I am able to hold my own(for the most part) with the language.

    I am leery of a walk-through coati enclosure. Has this been done before? I haven't heard of it. The five coatis at the animal park I currently work at aren't aggressive, but only experienced keepers are allowed in their enclosure and they can be bitey— I have the marks to prove it! I've heard of people keeping coatis as pets(bad idea IMO- one of our males was donated from a family that kept him as a pet, until he reached sexual maturity!) so I can see how, perhaps, this could be accomplished, though I'd be worried of patrons getting bitten and/or scratched.

    As both you and I have mentioned, we'd really need to set ourselves apart from the other animal parks in the area. I have yet to visit the Merida Zoo, so that will be on our agenda next trip. We just returned from there two weeks ago, and the tourists were booming, even during this semi-off season.

    I'd love to soak up any and all ideas you have. Free admission for you ZooChatters hahaha!

    :D ;)

    Edit to add: I reviewed the Merida Zoo and while it is a good 3 1/2 - 4 hours west drive away from the Cancun airport(out location is about an hour south east drive from Cancun), the reviews aren't the greatest. According to past visitors, it looks like an old 1950s-1960s zoo with rundown and incredibly small enclosures and unhealthy animals. I would certainly believe my husband and I wouldn't create such a travesty as that. We intend to design enclosures to be of sufficient space, lush landscaping, and enrichment for the animals.
     
    Last edited: 3 Aug 2014
  5. carlos55

    carlos55 Well-Known Member

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    Estimada Shutterfox,
    si vogel tiene razon, un manejo del excelente del castellano es indispensable para tratar con funcionarios en este pais. Los mexicanos somos muy nacionalistas y si no los entiendes te van a tratar de tomar el pelo. Por eso te escribo en castellano para irte preparando.
    Ya te comunicaste con Frank Camacho y Amy Camacho de Africam Safari Puebla ? Es la mejor institucion zoologica de mexico y AZA acredited tambien. Ellos tambien han dirigido la asociacion mexicana de zoologicos y acuarios a cuyas reuniones debes accudir. Jose Manuel Bernal es el director de los zoologicos del D:F. y otra persona importante en el medio de los zoologicos aqui. Tu esposo seguro te lo ha comentado que en Mexico y latinoamerica los contactos son muy importantes. Seguro estas buscando ya la gente del Profepa para acreditarse como Unidad de Manejo Ambiental.
    Cuidado con los deshonestos politicos del Partido verde Ecologista que estan manejando una agenda anti- zoo y obteniendo cierto apoyo local en algunos lugares. Estan engañando a la gente para obtener beneficio politico. Estan apoyados por una organizacion internacional llamada animanaturis y han hostigado algunas colecciones. Si estan ya estos impostores en Cancun.
    Buena suerte en tu proyecto. Sin duda hay lugar para una buena coleccion mas en la peninsula y que bueno que haya personas como tu interesadas en desarrollarlas. Bienvenida a Mexico.
     
  6. Shutterfox

    Shutterfox Member

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    Carlos55,

    Muchas gracias x tu consejo y x la bienvenida.perdón x q mi español no es muy bueno.

    Gracias x la information q me diste es muy bueno saver y entender Con Quine dirijirse o a dónde ir muchas gracias x la orientación.
    Con respecto a las entidades o partidos politicos o independientes que son anti zoológicas las vamos a incontrar en todos lados solo hay q saber tratar con allas o ellos.

    Tienes alguno consejo o algo como tratar con este tipo de organizaciones en este país? En verdad agradecería tu ayuda con este proyecto.

    Este zoológico es muy importante para My y mi familia y en verdad nos gustaría poder ser parte de algo muy hermoso y educativo como es un zoológico en la Rivera maya q es un lugar hermoso y muy turístico.

    Muchas gracias otra vez x aver respondido!

     
  7. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Well-Known Member

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    In addition to being impressed with Shutterfox's plans, I am impressed that she has typed all of her correspondence in red! I never knew you could use different font colors on ZooChat and I do not believe I have seen anyone do it before.

    I speak and read enough Spanish to follow most of the last two posts. For those who are lost, a very short (much too short for accuracy) abbreviation of Carlos' post is that Shutterfox and her husband should make contacts with key zoo people in country and watch out for a political green party that has an anti-zoo agenda.

    Going off topic somewhat, I am intrigued by Carlos suggestion that she speak good Castellano and not Espanol. If I understand correctly (which I may or may not), Castellano is the dialect of Spanish spoken in Spain (but not Latin America I thought). Is that perhaps the more formal dialect that you need in order to have business dealings in Mexico?
     
  8. Shutterfox

    Shutterfox Member

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    Arizona Docent, I apologize for not specifying. Espanol is the proper term for the dialect spoken in Spain, whereas Castellano is the dialect in Mexico. My apologies for making that generalization :eek:
     
    Last edited: 4 Aug 2014
  9. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Well-Known Member

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    Interesting. I assumed Castellano is what we call in English Castillian. I always thought that was from Spain. I guess I was wrong.
     
  10. Shirokuma

    Shirokuma Well-Known Member

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    Castellano and español are both names for what is usually called Spanish in English.

    [ame=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_given_to_the_Spanish_language]Names given to the Spanish language - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]
     
  11. Shutterfox

    Shutterfox Member

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    My mistake. I must make a correction here. Both Castellano and Espanol are the same language. The dialects themselves differ from country to country, be it any of the Central American countries, South American countries, or Spain.

    Different people of different parts of the world call it either Castellabo or Espanol, but it's fundamentally the same language. My husband had to correct me on that one, as he is the native speaker. Again, my apologies for the confusion I've caused! :eek:

     
    Last edited: 4 Aug 2014
  12. carlos55

    carlos55 Well-Known Member

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    I used the term castellano instead of español to be correct to current hispanic sensiblities that basque, galician and catalan speakers insist that though they are spanish speakers they do not speak castellano or castillian. Since there are iberian zoochaters here i prefered not to offend sensiblities. In Bilbao, Barcelona and Vigo this can be very touchy. It is interesting to note how the english speaking world in general has not been aware of the change of the term español for castellano. Castellano is now used more often in spain, and in Latin America in academic and business areas that deal with colleagues from Iberia. AD understood well how castellano may be used in more formal global contexts and of course he has been to
    Spain.
     
  13. Shutterfox

    Shutterfox Member

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    Well then. Shows how much I know about the Spanish language. Forgive me for all the misinformation.

    Carlos55, are you suggesting that my husband and I learn the espanol used in Iberian areas such as Spain? My husband can recognize and generally understand it, but he explains it's quite different than the espanol he grew up with in Mexico.

    Whatever it takes, I'm committed. Rosetta Stone is always an option ;)

    ANYWAY! Now that the language confusion is cleared up, does anyone have any advice on my original post?
     
    Last edited: 4 Aug 2014
  14. carlos55

    carlos55 Well-Known Member

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    Castellano is just a more formal term than plain español, but again in spain some people will tell you that you talk like a mexican, and in latin america we can also tell those people who speak with a spanish accent. In formal areas many folks in mexico prefer the iberian terms. Argentine spanish is much more formal than mexican spanish.By the way, when Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem appear in Hollywood movies they adapt quickly to mexican accents.