A Venezuelan zoo in the western state of Zulia may have sacrificed emaciated animals and fed them to healthier ones as the country struggles with chronic food shortages, zoo workers report.
The chaotic collapse of the country has created chronic food shortages that have fuelled malnutrition and left millions seeking food anywhere they can find it, including in trash cans and dumpsters.
For the past few years, union leaders have reported that animals were starving at the country’s zoos because of food shortages.
The challenges are particularly great for the big felines, who can eat between eight- to 10 per cent of their weight in meat.
In January, zoo workers at the Metropolitan Park Zoo in Maracaibo reported that zoo administrators had ordered them to sacrifice the most emaciated animals and feed them to the others.
Director Elio Rios told Reuters that when an animal is sacrificed, the zoo does feed it to the remaining animals.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro blames food shortages on a broader “economic war” led by adversaries with the help of Washington.
In the past, the government has denied that any animals have starved, insisting they had been treated “like family.”