More Than 50 Animals Starve to Death in Venezuela's Zoos
At least 50 animals have died in the last six months at the Caricuao zoo in Caracas, Venezuela, due to widespread food shortages that are affecting both man and beast in the socialist nation.
Marlene Sifontes, a union leader for employees of state parks agency Inparques which oversees zoos, told Reuters that the zoo lost Vietnamese pigs, tapirs, rabbits and birds after the animals went weeks without eating. Others animals at the zoo are in danger of severe malnutrition. Lions and tigers, which should be on a carnivorous diet, are being fed mango and pumpkin just to get something in their empty stomachs, while an elephant is being fed tropical fruit instead of its usual diet of hay, the union leader said. According to one report, the big cats are being fed slaughtered thoroughbred racehorses from a nearby race track.
"Other animals suffer from hunger in the Caracas zoo," the tweet below says. "The bison is so weak that it is being pecked at by turkey buzzards." Turkey buzzards — we call them turkey vultures in the U.S. — usually only eat dead animals and they prefer decomposing carcasses, which gives you an indication of the poor condition of this bison.
The situation is very grim for the humans in Venezuela, so it's no wonder that animals are not being properly cared for. The situation is even worse for animals outside the capital.
In the western state of Tachira, a park called La Laguna is seeking donations of fruit, vegetables and meat from local businesses so they can feed their animals.
"We are doing all that is humanly possible to ensure the zoo continues to function," Oslander Montoya, an accountant for city which handles the zoos funding, told Reuters.
In Paraguana, on the northwestern Falcon peninsula, three animals have died at a zoo there since the food shortages began.
The director said staff there are planning to move a dozen animals to another park so they can receive better care. Their collection includes six vulnerable spectacled bears, which are currently receiving just half of their required 35.2 pounds of food per day.
Meanwhile, the people of Venezuela regularly go without food and many have begun hunting dogs cats, and pigeons so they can feed their families. And last week prosecutors say someone broke into the Caracas zoo and stole a horse that they later butchered for food.