Ruperta, the only African elephant in Venezuela, is starving. The zoo does not have the funds to feed her, as Venezuela is in a severe economic crisis. The government denies the dire situation, blaming her weight loss on a stomach bug. Other animals at the zoo have already died of starvation. Sadly, not much can be done as donations are being turned away. The human crisis is also making the animal crisis less of a priority.
From the Miami Herald:
“Caracas’ El Universal reported that Ruperta is suffering from diarrhea and dehydration after zoo officials only had squash to feed her for several days. According to the newspaper, when neighbors tried to bring food to the elephant over the weekend, the donations were turned away by zoo officials citing sanitary issues.”
Venezuela is ranked by various organizations as one of the most corrupt nations. Drops in oil prices (a major export), drought, poor infrastructure, severe problems with crime and drugs, and a poorly over-regulated economy spell disaster for the Venezuelans. People wait in line for hours for basic necessities, and over 30% of Venezuelans lack decent sanitation (UN report). With such a backdrop, Ruperta’s hopes for survival are slim.
Picture: free domain, Wikipedia by The Photographer, empty shelves are a common sight in Venezuela as shortages of basic goods are a fact of daily life