Zoo animals are starving to death in Venezuela

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Carlos Jasso/Reuters

Venezuela is no stranger to crisis. In recent years, the South American country has been on the brink of economic collapse.

A drastic fall in oil prices, which provides almost all of Venezuela’s foreign income, has been followed by a severe recession and widespread food and medicine shortages.

For Venezuelans, the scarcity has led to choosing between waiting in hours-long lines for basic food supplies or succumbing to sky-high prices on the black market.

That scarcity has now spread to Venezuela’s zoos, where food shortages have left some animals emaciated or even dying.


Fifty animals have starved to death within the last six months at Caricuao zoo, one of Venezuela’s main zoos.

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Carlos Jasso/Reuters

“The story of the animals at Caricuao is a metaphor for Venezuelan suffering,” Marlene Sifontes, a union leader for the employees of Inparques, which oversees zoos, told Reuters.

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REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

Officials are forced to feed lions and tigers mangoes and pumpkins to make up for severe meat shortages.

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Carlos Jasso/Reuters

Three animals died in May at a zoo in Paraguana. The six bears at the zoo are eating only half of their required portion of food for the day.

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Carlos Jasso/Reuters

A number of Vietnamese pigs, rabbits, tapirs, and birds died at the Caricuao zoo after starving for two weeks.

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Carlos Jasso/Reuters

The plight for animals in zoos outside the capital is far worse.

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Carlos Jasso/Reuters

At a zoo in western Venezuela, administrators solicited fruit, vegetable, and meat donations from local businesses to feed starving animals.

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Carlos Jasso/Reuters

“We are doing all that is humanly possible to ensure the zoo continues to function,” Oslander Montoya, an accountant for the local municipality that handles funding for the La Laguna zoo, told Reuters.

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Carlos Jasso/Reuters

President Nicolas Maduro attributes Venezuela’s problems to an “economic war” waged by the US and other opponents.

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Carlos Jasso/Reuters

Others say that the country’s dependence on oil is to blame.

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Carlos Jasso/Reuters

Zoo animals aren’t the only ones struggling in Venezuela:

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Workers and police officers point as people line up to buy food and other goods inside a supermarket in Caracas, Venezuela, on June 30.
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REUTERS/Mariana Bazo

Inside the day-to-day struggle to get food in one of the world’s most unstable countries »