Photo: Rosénder Evíes

Even Venezuelan zoos haven’t been spared by the ongoing crisis: Last February, the Maracaibo Metropolitan Zoo made headlines around the world after reports broke out that animals were so malnourished that the weakest ones were sacrificed to feed the others.

Just now, a similar case has occurred in Barquisimeto, with two spider monkeys dying after going four days without food (only water). According to zoo worker Neris Suarez, other animals are in serious risk as well, and the quantity and quality of the food are declining. “We just got 53 kg of waste that’s not food. It’s what you give to pigs.”

In an unrelated incident, a white tiger died in May at the same zoo, during mating.

Things have forced Lara governor (and former Admiral) Carmen Melendez to make a visit at the Bararida Zoo and Botanical Park, where she pledged to fix all the problems…

…and then, one of the main veterinarians at the zoo was arrested. Carlos Silva, who’s in charge of preventive medicine and nutrition (with 13 years of experience at the park), was taken to a military facility on July 13 for questioning, and presented in court the next day. According to reports, he was detained without a warrant by the National Guard.

Locals condemned his arrest, from human rights and environmental protection groups, to his colleagues at the zoo. Silva was freed, but must show up at court every 15 days. That same weekend, Melendez held an open event in Bararida Zoo to celebrate Kids’ Day.

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Photos: Rosénder Evíes

Silva is being charged with “obstruction of justice” and “illegal hunting and fishing” by the Public Ministry. There are conflicting reports about the possible cause of his arrest: either he (allegedly) refused to sign documents about the recent animal deaths, or presented a very damning report about the park situation.

With the case now going to court, questions are being made about Bararida Zoo: An article in Aporrea by former constituyente candidate, Jose Gregorio Infante, blames current management by local apparatchik Junior Mejías (with no previous zoo experience.)

Infante blames current management by local apparatchik Junior Mejías (with no previous zoo experience.)

But the problems didn’t start with Mejías: The shortage of food and the rising costs to keep the animals fed were present in recent years at Bararida Zoo. In September 2016, then director Santos Balsamo admitted a “budgetary crisis”, that seems to be widespread in the nation: the animals of Caricuao Zoo, in Caracas, show signs of malnourishment as well, as Crónica Uno confirmed last month.

Even if I’ve covered similar stories before, the case of Bararida Zoo is special, as it remains an important institution here in Barquisimeto. Putting in charge a politician with no knowledge on the matter is already a case of mishandling, but this is the true meaning of “ecosocialism,” in case you were wondering about chavismo’s true ecological leanings.

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  1. Nobody hopes I am wrong more that me boys and girls but I’m starting to think that these guys really are here to stay for a good while yet. Cops and military have been calmed by much higher wages plus a regular food box and are afraid to make any waves because of all the g2 moles within. They say they know who they are and everything but they just steer clear of them and everyone keeps their head down and doesn’t say shit. Even with that big ol raise, inflation rapidly ate it up. They make aprox 27 million every two weeks and that’s about what a case of beer costs right now. The few middle class that are left have all but given up. We used to say that we could outlast er pueblo and they would go hungry and revolt before we went hungry but now that doesn’t seem to be the case. The word is that the next step is to switch everything to the tarjeta de la patria and if you don’t have it you are fucked. The doors are closing for immigration as well because neighbors are getting tired of Venezuelans and are starting to get quite nasty about it. Short of an intervention, nothing is going to pry these guys out of power. In other news the state cops in my town grabbed the town fairy without a warrant and beat him daily for a couple of weeks and then released him as they probably knew he was about to die from all the beatings and didn’t want the scandal. Well he limped out of there and his family put him on a bus to Columbia where he languished a few more days in a hospital before he died of his internal injuries. Supposedly he was storing some stolen shit in his house and refused to tell who had stolen it so they slowly beat him to death. Probably didn’t have anything to do with the fact that he is always running around dressed like a girl. Anyway. It’s all just so fucked on so many levels and everyone is scared to say anything or start anything cause we know we are going to get erased if we do and nobody is going to do a thing about it.

    • I’ve had the same sentiment for some time. Things will have to get really shitty for the True Believers before they turn on Chavismo. I am not so sure it will happen, as from what I have heard from my in-laws is that El Pueblo are so enamored with Chavismo that they will endure DEATHS if it meant they got another couple months of free shit… and it adversely affected their neighbor. A sort of bizarre, anti-logical Venezuelan schadenfreude.

      I have struggled to understand that culture.

      Nothing will change until the Chavista voter turns on Chavismo.

    • “…here to stay for a good while yet…” or for a bad while. As in “for better or worse till death do us part.” I think you touched the real issue implicitly.

  2. Noteworthy that in the pictures of the zoo animals they appear healthier and better fed than the photos of most Venezuelan humans. Except, of course, those associated with Chavismo. Majority of females I’ve seen in Maduro’s government, if told to haul ass, would have to make two trips. The haves get fatter and the have-nots die a lonely, early, wretched death. El Guapo, true believers will turn on Chavismo the same time I purchase a vehicle from Kuehn Motors. (I graduated HS with old man Charlie,)


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