Manzanillo zoo animals affected by hunger

Manzanillo zoo animals affected by hunger

HAVANA, May 20  The animals of the Bartolomé Masó Zoological Park, in Manzanillo, Granma province, are victims of the lack of food and show a critical state of malnutrition and extreme weakness.A report by the independent newspaper 14ymedio revealed the dire conditions in which the lions, iguanas, monkeys and other animals at the zoo are found, victims of the shortage of suitable food for their respective diets, due to the acute economic crisis that Cuba is going through. that has a greater impact on food, both for citizens and animals.

Gerardo and Karen, the park’s two lions, bear the brunt, as their diet should contain “about 10 kilos a day of meat, bones, viscera, fish, chicken and ‘meat waste’,” as their keepers explained to the website.

However, this diet, which had already been difficult to maintain for years, is “impossible now,” and the consequences can be seen with the naked eye, since the felines lost a considerable amount of weight, and “malnourished and without energy, they spend the rest of the day.” day huddled in a corner of their habitat.”

The oldest of the lions, Gerardo, is nine years old, was brought there from Kenya and is the father of Karen, also a male, who was born in Cuba in 2019, after a cesarean section for the mother, who died shortly after. The puppy grew without difficulties.

In 2023, zoo officials boasted that he was taller and heavier than his father. 14ymedio cites a journalistic work from the local station Radio Granma last year, which published photos in which Karen exhibited reddish hair and “her ribs were not visible, like now.”

But the reality is different today.

According to the digital newspaper, “the father is in a more critical condition. You can see his skeleton underneath his fur, which has lost color,” while Karen “prefers to stay in her cell, also protecting herself from the sun,” where she “corners herself against the bars.”

“They are not eating the same,” a veterinarian close to the zoo administration, identified as Enrique told 14ymedio, who warned that “the lions’ feeding schedule is almost a military secret. The keepers have precise instructions not to divulge anything about the feeding of the two lions.”

The aforementioned report from Radio Granma revealed, a year ago, that in the facility’s refrigerators “the beef skeletons that the State intended for both felines” were kept hanging on hooks.

The director of the park, Caridad Jorge, then stated that, due to the impossibility of having all the protein necessary for the cats’ diet on a daily basis, she traveled to other locations in the province to guarantee it.

Concerned about the consequences of not providing the lions with an ideal diet, “rich in proteins and fats,” Enrique warned that “malnutrition will have more serious results and will end with the death” of both.

But Gerardo and Karen are not the only animals who suffer from a lack of vital resources to maintain them.

The panorama described by 14ymedio is bleak: “The iguanas, barely distinguishable from the rocks that ‘decorate’ their moat, also try to escape the harsh sun of eastern Cuba.

Their skin is dry and they avoid the pond, which is murky and full of leaves. There are very few pigeons left, all caged. The mocho monkey – introduced to Cuba in the 1980s and characterized by its red face – has an unhealthy pink snout and lowers its head.”

Sebastián, a park worker for years, said: “There is no money here to buy food for all the animals. The Meat Company cannot provide enough meat for the lions, that is why they are so skinny.”

According to his testimony, a shipment of bones arrives sporadically at the zoo from the state entity. “We can only give them two meals a day and sometimes there is only enough for one,” he said.

The worker said that a few months ago the lions were worse than now; In his opinion, both animals “are improving,” despite the squalid image they show, with their ribs showing.

The problems at the Manzanillo City Zoo are not exclusive to them. The terrible conditions in which animals survive in other parks of the same type in Cuba have set off alarm bells among animal protection activists and citizens.

It is not surprising then that some animals escape from zoos in search of food, as happened with a monkey at the Caibarién Zoo, in Villa Clara, the previous Monday. The monkey was finally captured, although not before he managed to alleviate his hunger with food that he stole from houses in a neighborhood in the city.

Citizen complaints revealed last February the state of impoverishment of the animals in the Sancti Spíritus zoo, where they even suffer from a lack of water.

A YouTuber denounced, in mid-2023, the shortage of water and food, and the mistreatment suffered by animals at the 26 Zoo in Havana.

Last June, 10 animals died in the Camagüey zoo, after intense rains that flooded the city.