Controversial Euthanasia Practices Plague Puerto Rico Zoo; Animal Advocates Fight To Save Animals Lives
Promotional material geared towards visitors at “Parque Nacional Zoologico de Puerto Rico” says that the zoo is a “must go” stop for animal lovers, particularly children.
Also known as the Mayaguez zoo, because the city of Mayaquez now manages it, the tourist attraction is described as a small 45-acre park that promotes educational, scientific and entertainment resources for local Puerto Ricans and visitors.
A series of questionable euthanasia’s over the past few months has local animal advocates, such as Aixa Mutt, demanding answers and change.
Mutt first became aware of suspicious happenings at the zoo in December 2016, after learning that healthy newborn lion cubs were being euthanized. Since then, she has worked daily to bring justice to the animals wrongly killed and protection to the ones that are still alive.
According to Mutt, as reported by an anonymous source, employees of the zoo were outraged not only because of the senseless murders, but after killing a cub, the curator instructed an employee to throw its lifeless body in the garbage.
Appalled employees secretly took photos and videos and contacted the media.
Mutt, who remained in contact with her anonymous source that works at the zoo, filed a formal complaint with the USDA and secured videos of live newborn cubs and USDA reports before they went dark.
As a result of the controversy that ensued, on Friday, January 13, 2017, Andrés Waldemar Volmar Méndez, the secretary of the municipalities Department of Recreation and Sports (DRS), shared with a local newspaper that the curator general of the Puerto Rico zoo had resigned. He also clarified that the curator did not occupy the position of veterinary technician, at the time of his resignation, explaining that the position was previously frozen.
According to Mutt, the job has yet to be filled.
“Our agency has initiated a process of investigation into the alleged irregularities in the handling of animals, denounced in the media,” he said.
Again, as of now no reports have been released from the Department as to what happened and what stepswould be taken to fix the situation.
Mayor José Gammel Rodriguez also released a statement criticizing the practice of euthanizing a lion cub and newborn animals at the zoo; urging the DR to investigate and explaining that with the transfer of the Puerto Rico zoo to the hands of the municipality, the zoo would be revitalized and in part, serve as a research center for species conservation.
Mutt offers several examples to support her complaints including one about two pigs that ended up being euthanized, before USDA inspectors went to the zoo to investigate the situation.
“That makes three cases that I notice similarities with their deaths,” Mutt conveyed in an email to WAN. “It is weird.”
Mutt also sheared the story of a rhino who a USDA inspector determined had a mass, though the vet stated he had no knowledge of that. The inspector recommended that the rhino have radiological testing, but the zoo lacked the facility or equipment to do this. The rhino died due to negligence.
There is also a case when a USDA inspector came to the zoo to investigate a male lion who was dangerously skinny; again, determining he thought there were masses under the animal’s skin. This time the inspector wanted to weigh the lion, but was not able to because the zoo does not have equipment for this either. The lion was euthanized.
“I feel that all of these animals could have been alive today if the zoo had a capable curator or vet, as well as the necessary equipment to test them before euthanizing them,” concluded Mutt.
The problems at the zoo are apparently widespread as Mutt’s February 18th, 2017 post on Facebook notes “The Monkeys had no water or food at the time our fellow advocate was there. The Bears had only water and one was kept in a tiny cage. The Jaguar exhibit shows dirty pool/source of water. Despair, filth and small enclosures.”
Please Contact The Mayor Of Puerto Rico And Ask Him To Investigate The Mayaguez Zoo.
Hon. José Guillermo Rodríguez Rodríguez
PO Box 447 Mayagüez. PR 00681-0447
Fax: (787) 834-8585
Phone: (787) 265-2270