In the Curicuao Zoo in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, Ruperta the elephant is starving to death. The zoo claims they cannot afford to feed her, however officials have turned away concerned citizens and animal advocates who have brought food to the 46-year-old elephant stating there may be some “bad intentions.”
According to the Daily Mail, the head of the Venezuela’s National Parks Institute Marlene Sifontes issued the following statement:
“There is food, but there is not enough variety. They are feeding her only with auyama (a type of pumpkin) and papaya, but it is not covering what she really needs.”
Ruperta’s gaunt body, with her ribs showing through her sagging skin, have been shared online. Caracas’ El Universal reported that Ruperta suffers from diarrhea and dehydration, but when neighbors tried to bring carrots and oranges to the elephant over the weekend, the donations were turned away by zoo officials citing sanitary issues. Days later, as the ire boiled over from well-wishers, the zoo released a statement:
“Workers are not allowed to receive donations, because while there are people with good feelings, there are others with bad intentions.”
Román Camacho, the reporter who originally broke the story, took the pictures, and has since stated in a country where hunger abounds, the crisis has become so severe that the only African elephant in all of Venezuela needs help. The elephant had been reported to have fallen, which media claims has been a result of malnutrition, Venezuelan officials insists it was just a simple slip.
Elephants can eat up to 330 pounds of food a day, and the concern remains high on social media importance.
“…this is INHUMANE and INFURIATING. spread the word to help these beautiful creatures that so much deserve a better life,” Paris Jackson, daughter of the late Michael Jackson tweeted on March 26.
Maribel Garcia, the animal rights activist who confirmed the reports on Ruperta’s health, told Fox News that the elephant, who should be weighing seven tons, currently weighs in at four tons.
“Elephants feed on carrots, grass, vegetables, fruits and bamboo leaves,” she said. “We believe that the diet of just pumpkins and the absence of her veterinarian who has treated her for more than 10 years influenced the elephant to be in that state.”
In addition to Ruperta suffering, there have been reports of the lack of basic cleaning supplies at the zoo as well as food for the animals. Unconfirmed reports state at least 50 other zoo denizens have died from starvation. A starving jaguar has been removed from public view, and a horse once on display is gone – advocates fear the animals are being killed to be used as food.
Still Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the country’s socialist leader denies the claims the elephant is starving claiming it is all a conspiracy theory by enemies trying to demoralize the country.
(Photo of elephant is starving via Twitter and R. Camacho)
Check out her video.