At least fifty animals have starved to death in a Venezuelan zoo over the past six months due to a food shortage.
Caricuao Zoo in Caracas has been forced to ration the food supplies in an effort to keep the animals alive for as long as possible, hoping the situation improves in the near future. As a result, many of the animals are not receiving the proper nutrition and are being forced to eat items that would not normally be found in their diets. The lions and tigers, according to the BBC, are being fed mangoes and pumpkins in place of the meat they would normally consume.
According to Marlene Sifontes, a Union leader for the zoo, some of the dead animals went at least two weeks without any food before finally perishing due to famine.
Despite the horrific news of the dead animals, it has been noted that Caricuao Zoo may be in better shape than the city zoos, which have started begging local businesses for leftover fruits, vegetables, and meat, hoping to piece together enough scraps to feed their animals.
— Naza (@naza984) July 21, 2016
Metro has revealed that among the dead animals are tapirs, Vietnamese pigs, rabbits, and various birds. It is unknown whether the larger, more exotic, animals are being prioritized over the smaller zoo animals.
Sifrontes states that the situation at the zoos mirrors the economic situation within the country.
‘The story of the animals at Caricuao is a metaphor for Venezuelan suffering.’
Many Venezuelans are forced to skip meals due to a larger food shortage due to the economic downturn. Many of those residents are standing in lines for hours to receive their own food rations. Therefore, support from the communities is quite small at the zoos.
President Nicolas Maduro states that the issues within the country are not to be blamed on his leadership. Instead, he states that government opponents and powerful businessmen are to blame as they demonize his administration into being the villain. The dead zoo animals are just another element to the economic devastation.
Los humanos tienen la opción de buscar comida en la basura. Los animales del zoo de Caricuao solo esperan la muerte pic.twitter.com/NMySY5aVi5
— Bernardo Fischer (@Bfischert) July 21, 2016
The Venezuelan government claims that an investigation into the animal deaths is underway. Officials have stated that the deaths are not a result of food shortages, instead shifting blame elsewhere. Yet, there has been little to no governmental intervention in the food shortage situation. Nor has there been discussion of transporting the animals to other facilities where food is available for the animals.
An easy solution would be to transfer the animals to other zoos, possibly on bordering countries, where they can live their days with a full belly and healthy lifestyle. Releasing them back into the wild is not considered a viable solution, since they have spent so many years in the zoo under the care of the zookeepers. Placing them to their own free will in the wild would most likely result in their death as they struggle to assimilate to a life of taking care of themselves. Not to mention that many of the animals are not from the region and would need to be relocated anyway to a more natural environment.
Although it does not seem that a positive end is in sight, keepers at the Caricuao Zoo are hopeful that someone will come to their rescue and provide the necessary nutrition for their remaining animals to survive and be nursed back to health.
[Image via Shutterstock]