Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Saturday | May 15, 2010
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Jamaica Zoo roars into action
Lions snarl at visitors at the Lacovia zoo. - Photo by Sheena Gayle

Sheena Gayle, Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

From the roar of a lion to the chirp of a bird, the adventure-packed nature trail of Jamaica Zoo in Lacovia, St Elizabeth, injects excitement into visitors who will have the opportunity to interact with these wildlife animals.

The state-of-the-art zoo, which has 10 different types of animals, is the first of its kind for western Jamaica, and offers something new and refreshing for tourism attractions in the area. It opens on May 23.

Owner and animal lover, Paul Fearon, said while he expects the venue to turn a profit in the future, the idea was born out of a need to operate a zoo where persons could be educated and entertained.

"I grew up as an animal lover. My father was a veterinarian and we were very close. So as I grew up, I became very attached to animals and began seeking animals, but there was not enough to see in Jamaica," Fearon told Saturday Life.

"So I did some travelling all over the world to check out various zoos, and I saw that there is a need for a zoo in Jamaica, not just for monetary gain but for educational purpose."

The facility, which also has a kids' play area with slides, has been under construction since 2009 and will officially open its doors to the public on May 23. It was first featured by Saturday Life in February 2009, when Fearon was just in the nascent stage of organising the zoo.

Fearon, who said he could not put a dollar value on his investment, explained that Jamaica Zoo was easily accessible - via the highway network - to persons from Montego Bay, Mandeville and other towns.

"It's (St Elizabeth) a central spot that is not as populated as Kingston, the surroundings are conducive to wildlife. We will be open seven days a week because it is healthier for the animals. Animals are curious, and the busier they are, the better it is for them," he added.

Admission fees are $1,000 for adults and $500 for children.

The island's major zoo, the Hope Zoo in St Andrew, has suffered a depletion in the number and range of animals, largely attributed to a dearth of funding.

sheena.gayle@gleanerjm.com

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