Day: March 1, 2023

USA: ‘Animal welfare comes first’: Puerto Rico permanently closes only zoo after complaints of neglect.

Puerto Rico – Puerto Rico is closing the U.S. territory’s only zoo following years of suspected negligence, a lack of resources and deaths of animals that were highlighted by activists.

The Dr. Juan A. Rivero Zoo in the western coastal town of Mayaguez has remained closed since hurricanes Irma and Maria battered the island in September 2017, with activists questioning the state of the zoo’s more than 300 animals and their future.

Puerto Rico’s government announced the permanent closure of the 45-acre zoo Monday as federal authorities investigate allegations of mistreatment of animals.

“Animal welfare comes first,” Gov. Pedro Pierluisi told reporters. “Questions have been raised for a long time.”

Earlier this month, U.S. Attorney Stephen Muldrow announced that experts from The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado would inspect and evaluate the animals, saying that “the safe and humane care for all zoo animals is a top priority of the Justice Department.”

Sanctuary officials visited the zoo on Sunday – a visit that was supposed to have occurred in 2017 before the hurricanes hit, sanctuary executive director Pat Craig told The Associated Press, noting that people already were concerned about the animals at that point.

“The zoo definitely has been degraded,” he said. “You can imagine the facilities were overgrown and dilapidated to some degree.”

He said the animals were healthy enough to travel for the most part, although he noted that a mountain lion has a growth on one arm that veterinarians are still inspecting.

Craig also said he was concerned about the zoo’s lone chimpanzee because apes require socialization.

He declined to provide further details, saying he was limited about what he could share given the involvement of the U.S. Justice Department. However, he added that the team didn’t find anything that required immediate attention.

In February 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture cancelled the zoo’s exhibitor’s license after citing dozens of violations in previous years, including a thin tiger that was euthanized and a distressed cougar living in a cramped space.

Previously, a government-appointed committee had raised concerns about two pumas that died, an underweight chimpanzee and a rhinoceros named Felipe that was limping. It also noted that dozens of animals needed vaccines or physical tests, and that a kangaroo and a porcupine were among animals that didn’t have shelter.

In January, officials announced that an American black bear named Nina who was more than 20 years old died from unspecified health complications after she stopped eating. The results of a necropsy have not been released. Black bears can live up to 35 years in captivity.

Craig, with The Wildlife Sanctuary, said he estimates his group would transfer up to 50% of the zoo’s animals at no cost to Puerto Rico’s government. However, they would not take in primates or unique birds given Colorado’s weather.

Puerto Rico’s Department of Natural Resources has said it is cooperating in plans for transfers and with the continuing investigation in the zoo, which opened in 1954.

“We have not skimped on the search for alternatives so that…the best possible care and safety of all the species that inhabit there are guaranteed,” said the department’s secretary, Anaís Rodríguez, who noted that it wasn’t until four years ago that the agency assumed responsibility for the zoo.

Activists celebrated the zoo’s impending closure, including Christian Ríos, who is also president of an animal rights commission at Puerto Rico’s Association of Attorneys. He called for full transparency as officials prepare for the transfer of certain animals.

“We are not letting our guard down,” Ríos said, adding that those responsible should face the consequences. “We are sorry that all these complaints have taken a long time to be heard.”

Puerto Rico closes only zoo after animal neglect complaints (

Regards Mark

Malta – Animal liberation activists turn up in onesies to protest Monte Kristo circus,

Above – Animal activists in pyjamas protest the Veterinary Division’s lack of action in stopping a circus act

Malta – Animal liberation activists turn up in onesies to protest Monte Kristo circus

Horse show at Monte Kristo estates should be banned under animal circus rules, say activists protesting VRD inaction

Animal activists in pyjamas and pillows pulled up at the Marsa offices of the Veterinary and Phytosanitary Regulation Division (VRD) to protest the lack of action in stopping another circus act called Cleopatra’s Horse Show that is scheduled to take place at Monte Kristo estates.

Activists from Animal Liberation Malta, Real Animal Rights Foundation, Association for Abandoned Animals AAA and Vuċi Għall-Annimali held up placards saying “VRD wake up! Enforce the Law”, “VRD whilst you are snoozing animals are suffering”, “Żomm kwiet – hawn in-nies reqdin hawnhekk.”

The activists said the Cleopatra’s Horse Show clearly falls under the definition of a circus and cannot be allowed under the current legislation.

“This circus act will have horses performing for three days in a row. We contacted VRD and informed them of this circus act just in case they were not aware. Apart for not answering our communication, it seems no action has been taken to stop this from happening as the show is still being promoted to date,” an ALM spokesperson said.

“The fact that the show will happen clearly demonstrates what animal NGOs and activists have long been saying about the regulator and the law itself. The regulator has repeatedly closed its eyes to breaches in the Animal Welfare Act and the recent changes in the act have been done to regularise this.”

The Animal Welfare Act itself only inflicts a €2,000 administrative fine for breaking the law, meaning the organisers stand to be fined €666 per day for each of the three days that the show will take place.

The ALM said the Animal Welfare Act had been further degraded through recent changes in the law to give powers to the VRD to issue a “special permit” to hold such events.

“In fact, if the event were held just a few days after this, the Director of VRD would have had the authority to issue a permit for this circus act.  Are we going to allow big business continue uncontrolled to the detriment of Animal Welfare as well?”

Animal liberation activists turn up in onesies to protest Monte Kristo circus (

Regards Mark