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Puerto Rico zoo animals to be transferred stateside

By on August 28, 2017

SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló confirmed Monday that Dr. Juan A. Rivero Zoo’s elephant and 10 big cats will be transferred to sanctuaries in the mainland U.S. to ensure the animals’ well-being, as recommended by the executive committee created to evaluate the facility.

The Mayagüez zoo will close and possibly reopen in the future with the concept of a sanctuary, the governor said at a press conference.

In this July 7, 2017 photo, “Mundi,” the only elephant at the Dr. Juan A. Rivero Zoo, reaches out to eat shrubs in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. (Danica Coto/AP)

In addition, Rosselló said he requested an investigation into the animals’ conditions at the zoo, due to the “serious allegations that there had been improper treatment of some animals.”

“If, in fact, that kind of behavior is found [to have been occurring], there will be consequences,” Rosselló assured.

Afterward, it the governor’s office said in a written statement that a sanctuary would be more viable because it is a way in which international animal rights organizations can be more involved in the care of the animals.

The ten cats–pumas, tigers and lions–will be relocated to the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado and the Wildcat Sanctuary in Minnesota.

The executive committee confirmed the death of a cougar on Saturday, Aug. 26, and is currently awaiting the results of the necropsy to know the cause. It is the second puma to die in less than two weeks.

The press office of La Fortaleza also denied that there had been layoffs at the zoo due to the situation.

The executive committee, which was created June 29, is made up of Dr. Luis Martínez, director of the Office of the First Lady; journalist Susan Soltero; activist Carla Capalli; biologist Lourdes Meléndez; and the director of Bayamón’s Parque de las Ciencias (Science Park), Janette Pagán.

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