The ongoing economic crisis in Puerto Rico hasn’t just put pressure on Puerto Rico’s healthcare system, infrastructure, and finances. This week, NBC News reports that the debt crisis has also thrown the territory’s only zoo into chaos.
According to an Associated Press report, the zoo is understaffed and struggling to care for the animals who live there.
The Dr. Juan A. Rivero zoo in Mayaguez was recently cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for inhumane conditions, the Associated Press reports. Citations included animals suffering in high temperatures, expired medicines, and a tiger with kidney failure that was recently put down. Around the same time, five lion cubs died soon after birth.
The zoo’s part-time veterinarian, Marilyn Arce, denied the reports, and she insisted the animals are in much better condition after earlier problems came to light.
Animal rights activists are so concerned about conditions at the zoo that they have started a petition calling on Governor Ricardo Roselló and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to close down the zoo altogether. So far, more than 22,000 people had signed the petition.
The petition reads:
Dirty water tanks, lions sleeping in confined spaces on their own waste, among many many other forms of abuse.
Pictures and stories have been leaked to the media of sick lions, euthanize cubs, elephants in detriment conditions, rhinos alone and miserable.
There is NO excuse to euthanize newly born baby cubs, and throw their bodies into a river. Organizations worldwide are willing to receive these animals, but we need to obtain custody in order to begin making travel arrangements.
Susan Soltero is an animal activist who was recently appointed to a government committee investigating the zoo. She told the Associated Press, “It makes you want to cry…This is unacceptable to me as a human being.”
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