Shameful: Elephant is starving in Venezuela zoo because they can’t afford to feed her

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)

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Bear and lion the last 2 survivors of Mosul zoo almost left ravaged grounds to safety

In war torn Mosul in Iraq, the Montazah Almorour Zoo had once been home to a large number of animals, playgrounds and green spaces for tourists and residents. Tragically this week, even with the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians,  the ISIS invasion the animals at the zoo to suffer egregious and agonizing deaths; many of the animals including a lioness, monkeys and rabbits  either starved to death or were killed by surrounding fire and shrapnel.

On Tuesday, representatives of Four Paws International headed to Mosul to rescue Lula and Simba – a bear and a lion; the only two animals still alive.  Dr. Amir Khalil, veterinarian and head of Four Paws was prepared stating:

“We have to act quickly, because Mosul is a dangerous crisis area.”

The volunteers had full support of the army who joined them on the way to the Mosul zoo and were on site as Lula and Simba were tranquilized for the trip. The animals were gently loaded on the truck and escorted out of the city. There everyone was stopped and detained as  border guards stopped them stating:

“We’re not sure who owns the animals, there was one owner and now there are many . . .” they said when asked about the military action to stop the animals at the border.

There are reports the animals have been left outside the zoo in their small travel cages. On the organization’s Facebook page, the mission leader Amir Khalil continues to negotiate for the lives of Lula and Simba. As there is a curfew in place overnight, no one has been able to check on the animals welfare or even if they have been fed.

“For us it’s clear – they have to be removed from Mosul to a safe and species appropriate place somewhere else,” stated Khalil.

(Photos of Mosul zoo bear and lion via Four Paws Facebook page)

Read previous report here.

Watch the desperate effort to save Lula and Simba. They are still not safe. Keep your fingers crossed. No doubt there are still many heroes in our world!


Poachers break into Paris zoo, shoot rhino and saw off its horn

A four-year-old male rhinoceros was found dead on Tuesday morning at the Parc Zoologique de Thoiry; he had been shot three times in the head by poachers, and his horn had been chopped off. This is believed to be the first incident of poaching from a zoo animal in Europe. A press release on the zoo’s Facebook page described the disturbing and heartbreaking discovery:

“In the night of Monday, 6 March, to Tuesday, 7 March 2017 of the perps broke into in the field of Thoiry (50 miles west of Paris) despite the security measures put in place and killed one of the three white rhino in order to seize the One of his horns. The whole staff is extremely shocked. A survey of gendarmerie investigation in the early hours of the morning. The direction of the domaine de thoiry’s gonna file a complaint.” (translation)Rhino killed at paris zoo 2

The white rhinoceros, named Vince, is believed to have been attacked by at least two poachers in a protected clearing where two other rhinos lived. Vince’s second horn had been partially hacked away as if the criminals ran out of time and had to run away. Zoo personnel and authorities believe the poachers had intended to kill the other rhinos also –  Bruno, 5, and Gracie 37; both animals are said to be safe.

According to the website for the Thoiry Zoo, Vince came from the Netherlands where he was born in 2012. In 2015, Bruno and Vince arrived at the zoo. There are about 21,000 white rhinos in the world  living in the wild; mainly in South Africa and Uganda, but the species is hugely under threat from poaching, reports the Evening Standard. The white rhino is particularly vulnerable, because it is generally very passive in nature and has poor eye-sight.

Rhino horns are highly prized in traditional Asian medicine, where they are ground into a fine powder or turned into tablets to be used as a treatment for a variety of diseases; especially as a sexual enhancing potent. Local authorities state rhino horns can bring up to $41,000 on the black market.

The outrage on social media about the killing of Vince has gone viral. Such comments as:

Alexandre Lemerle wrote: “We’re in France but people can still kill rhinos for their horns…”

Jerome Leheutre posted: “New proof of human greed! A rhinoceros has been slaughtered and his horn severed at Thoiry zoo.”

Morgane L. wrote: “A bunch of a******s broke into Thoiry and killed a rhino to cut his horn off. I’m losing faith in humanity…..”

Rest in peace Vince. We do hope you get some justice. This kind of cruelty is unforgivable.

(Photos of Vince the rhino shot by poachers via the Thoiry Zoo Facebook page)

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Shocking cruelty as zoo’s beloved hippo Gustavito beaten to death

In the city of San Salvador, in El Salvador, the rise of  brutal gang violence in recent years just reached one of the most vulnerable victims, when the National Zoo’s beloved hippo Gustavito was beaten to death last week. The hippopotamus died on Sunday night. Even with the staggering loss of life to humans caused by the rampant violence, the senseless death of an innocent animal, that brought pleasure to thousands as he quietly frolicked in a zoo’s pool in his enclosure, stirred public outrage.

Police in El Salvador are investigating an attack at the National Zoological Park that killed a hippopotamus named Gustavito.

Police in El Salvador are investigating an attack at the National Zoological Park that killed a hippopotamus named Gustavito.

According to AbcNews, Gustavito was born and raised in Guatemala for two years. He arrived to the El Salvador National Zoo 13 years ago. The hippopotamus suffered “multiple blows on different parts of his body” from “blunt and sharp objects” in Tuesday’s attack, the Ministry of Culture said in a statement. Two days after the attack, the staff noticed Gustavito had been spending most of his time under water in his enclosure and had stopped eating. When examined, veterinarians discovered the hippo suffered from “bruises, lacerations on the head and body, cramps and abdominal pain.” A necropsy will be performed to determine the exact cause of the animal’s death.

And that wasn’t all. Vladen Henriquez, the zoo director, stated the hippo had injuries to his feet, wounds on his cheek which were indicative of having been attacked with an ice pick and injuries inside of his mouth most likely inflicted as Gustavito tried desperately to defend himself. Pieces of metal and rocks were found in his enclosure.

Salvadorans have been sending their sympathies through social media and have left flowers at the zoo’s gate. An investigation continues. Rest in peace Gustavito. (Photos of hippo courtesy of El Salvador’s Cultural Ministry)

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Last 2 starving zoo animals saved from ISIS rule in Mosul

In war torn Mosul in Iraq, the Montazah Almorour Zoo had once been home to a large number of animals, playgrounds and green spaces for tourists and residents. Tragically the ISIS invasion caused even more innocent victims of war to suffer egregious and agonizing deaths; many of the animals including a lioness, monkeys and rabbits  either starved to death or were killed by surrounding fire and shrapnel.Isis zoo rescue 2

Two remaining zoo denizens somehow managed to barely survive.  A veterinary team from charity Four Paws International,  Vienna, Austria, an organization that sends aid workers worldwide to rescue bears, big cats and stray animals, has started treating animals at the Mumtaz al-Nour zoo in eastern Mosul to help. The team, led by Dr. Amir Khalil, arrived to help Simba the lion and Lula the bear. Both animals suffer from a host of diseases including extreme malnutrition, pneumonia, arthritis and severe dental infections.

According to the Daily Mail, the zoo’s location had been on the front battle line of conflict between militants and the Iraqi army. Most of the animals were killed, however local residents and volunteers had been feeding the last two zoo survivors with food scraps until it was too dangerous to risk their own live. Earlier in the month, zoo owner Abu Omar stated:Isis zoo rescue 3

“When the battle intensified, it was impossible for the guard and animal handler to reach them.”

The battle lasted  nearly four months. Now that the city has recently been liberated by Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the rescue team has sent veterinarians to supply medical help. On the organization’s Facebook book, the ongoing rescue efforts have been updated:

” A FOUR PAWS team accompanied by local volunteers are on site to provide the last two wild animals, a bear and a lion, with food and medical care. Although alive, both animals look miserable and are suffering from many diseases caused by malnutrition and lack of veterinary care. Both have very bad teeth, in addition the bear suffers from pneumonia and the lion has ill joints. The cages were cleaned and the bear and the lion were provided with the urgently needed help!”Isis zoo rescue 4

As to the futures of Simba and Lula, the organization is grateful that they have been able to supply first aid and provide the survivors with food for at least the next four weeks. They are investigating the possibilities of future treatment for the animals and plan to keep advocates and supporters informed. It is asked that advocates keep in mind  ISIS has been in control for the last two years – people and animals have suffered. Fortunately Iraqi media has helped to bring the plight of these animals out to the public.

Photos of zoo animals in Mosul courtesy of Four Paws International Facebook.

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Check out the heartwarming video as these two innocent survivors are finally receiving the help they deserve:

Beloved elephant euthanized amidst controversy

A beloved elephant, who resided at the Oregon Zoo, has been euthanized at the age of 54. The decision to put the elephant, named “Packy,” down was made by zoo veterinarians who could not find an effective treatment for his drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis, reported KATU News.

Beloved elephant has been euthanizedThe decision to end Packy’s life was not without controversy. On February 7, the animal welfare organization, In Defense of Animals, issued a press release about Packy and the situation. A portion of the release, which was issued to help spare Packy from death, reads:

Animal advocates from In Defense of Animals and Free the Oregon Zoo Elephants are urgently calling on citizens to plea for the life of beloved elephant Packy, following a leak of the Oregon Zoo’s apparent plans to kill him. An elephant keeper and another Zoo employee, calling themselves “Team Packy”, have exposed what appears to be a closed-door, lethal discussion between the Oregon Zoo management and Metro Council.Free Packy CREDIT Friends of Oregon Zoo Elephants

A statement by the keeper on a dedicated Facebook page reads, “It appears Zoo Management and Metro are about to make the decision to put Packy down and this decision is not based on science, safety or Packy’s best interest. It is a risk based decision made by politicians, attorneys and other officials who fear the future repercussions of keeping him alive.”

Toni Frohoff, Ph.D., Elephant Scientist for In Defense of Animals, stated:

“Make no mistake, this would not be ‘euthanasia’ but ‘zoothanasia’ (the killing of zoo animals who are considered to be surplus), Euthanasia is killing out of compassion to alleviate an individual’s suffering. This does not appear to be the case for Packy.”

In a statement, the zoo’s lead veterinarian, Dr. Tim Storms, implied that there were no other feasible options for treating the ailing elephant:

We’d run out of options for treating him. The remaining treatments involved side effects that would have been very hard on Packy with no guarantee of success, plus a risk of creating further resistance.

On the Facebook page which was created to help keep Packy alive, a statement was released after the elephant was euthanized:

Hi everyone,
As I am sure most of you have heard, the worst has happened. Packy was put down this morning. We want to thank you all for your help and support in trying to stop this from happening, we can at least live with ourselves knowing that we did everything we could to try to change the minds of the Director and Assistant Director in this matter. Please understand that we will be offline for the most part as we take time to mourn the loss of our beloved family member.
Thank you all again for everything each of you have done,
Team Packy

(Images via Team Packy and In Defense Of Animals)

Chimp at North Korea zoo trained to chain smoke cigarettes as attraction

Azalea is a 19-year-old chimp who has had the  bad luck to be part of Kim Jong Un’s  North Korea zoo in Pyongyang. According to the Guardian, notwithstanding the usual neglect and prison status of zoo denizens, some disgusting trainer taught Azalea to chain smoke cigarettes; she knows how to use a lighter, exhale smoke and then bows and dances for North Korea’s Central Zoo visitors.chimp-smoking-2

So now Azalea is referred to as the “gawker” attraction and smokes 20 cigarettes a day since the North Korea zoo reopened. Officials at the zoo claim Azalea, whose Korean name is “Dallae”, doesn’t inhale the cigarette smoke and just pushes the smoke out between her cheeks. The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), has criticized the zoo for keeping the animals to “attract gawkers.”

“This exemplifies the problem with any captive wildlife displayed for profit. They are made to do unnatural and freakish things to attract gawkers. The good news is that the civilized world is moving away from this, like the gradual elimination of orcas from places like Seaworld,” states Carter Dillard, Director of Litigation for the ALDF.

In the newly renovated zoo, obviously restructured to make money off the animals and forcing them to perform in ridiculous and health hazardous conditions, also exists the Dog Pavilion where Shih Tzus and Schnauzers do tricks. Another monkey attraction shows the primate playing basketball. One can only shake in disgust how these animals are abused; making sure they become “gawkworthy.”

Can there be no doubt that smoking is as dangerous to Azalea’s health as it is to humans; tragically Azalea has no one to help her quit. In addition the zoo has gathered up hyenas, antelopes and reportedly 90 more exotic animals. NK News reports more than 90 species have been added to the zoo and another 100 bred there; totaling nearly 800 animals.

The renovations are part of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s efforts to create more modern structures and leisure centers around the capital.

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(Photos via screenshot Nbcnews)