‘The animals can’t wait’: Peru’s zoo operators plead for government help amid fears that the creatures will starve to death as feed runs out during coronavirus quarantines
- Breeding centers and zoos in Peru are reporting animal feed shortages as a result of the economic losses linked to the coronavirus pandemic
- A national quarantine order has kept visitors away and operators fear the epidemic will starve the animals to death or they’ll be put to sleep
- Peru has the second-highest COVID-19 totals in Latin America with 572 deaths and 20,914 confirmed cases
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
The dozens of howler monkeys, macaws and sloths in a zoo in the jungles of Peru have enough animal feed to last for about two more weeks.
After that, their future during the new coronavirus pandemic is uncertain.
The situation is the same for more than 140 breeding centers and zoos throughout Peru that have been left without income from paying visitors as quarantines designed to curb the spread of the COVID-19 disease keep the public away.
Some operators of zoos and breeding centers are pleading for government help.
‘We need the state to remember its wild animals,’ said Magali Salinas, founder of the Amazon Shelter, which is located on the banks of the Tambopata River, a 30-minute drive from Puerto Maldonado just 34 miles away from the border with western Bolivia.
An anteater peers out from its cage at the Huachipa Zoo, on the outskirts of Lima, Peru. Breeding centers and zoos in Peru only have enough animal feed to last for about two more weeks as they have been left without income from paying visitors due to the strict coronavirus quarantines keeping the public away
Jose Gatelu (pictured) hand feeds goats at the zoo inside the closed Cogollo Portuario Club, located on the outskirts of Lima, Peru
A pair of horses stand in their corral at the zoo inside the closed Cogollo Portuario Club outside Lima, Peru. Manuel Cabrera, who runs the club, said the coronavirus epidemic has left the animals in an unfair fight for their survival
For the last 15 years, the 63-year-old activist has been nurturing injured animals after police recovered them from traffickers.
Salinas, who is already indebted to five banks, believes Peru’s government should step in to help save the animals, which will otherwise starve to death or have to be killed.
‘Do you think it’s just 15 years of my life that I have dedicated myself to rehabilitating fauna so that later, due to this terrible problem, the state shuts down and cannot give a contribution to support us?’ said Salinas, who says she’s saved animals wounded by shotgun pellets and mended bones broken from human cruelty.
Peru is one of the countries in Latin America hardest hit by the new coronavirus, with at least 19,250 confirmed illnesses and 530 deaths.
Zoo operators in Peru care for about 4,000 animals that police rescued each year from traffickers.
A keeper feeds an anteater at the Huachipa Zoo, on the outskirts of Lima, Peru. Animal shelter and zoo operators are asking the Peruvian government to step in and provide economic assistance to increase the amount of food needed to keep the animals alive
A macaw parrot perches on a piece of wood at the zoo inside the Cogollo Portuario Club
A worker interacts with a seal at the Huachipa Zoo. Zoo and shelter leaders have approached the Peruvian government asking for help as they are left without income from paying visitors as strict coronavirus quarantines keep the public away
Desperate for assistance, leaders of some shelters and zoos recently sent a letter asking for help from Peruvian Minister of Economy María Alva. They’re still waiting for a response.
Hunger is encroaching on animal shelters, even the smallest ones like the zoo inside the Cogollo Portuario club on the outskirts of Lima.
‘We are condemned not to open until the end of the year,’ said Manuel Cabrera, who runs the club that in past years brimmed with visitors eager to visit the animals.
Today, however, the tree-lined walkways around the animal exhibits are empty. So are the club’s coffers, Cabrera said, adding that the pandemic has left the animals in a fight for survival.
‘The animals can’t wait,’ Cabrera said.
Lons play inside their enclosure at the Huachipa Zoo. The operators of zoos and animal shelters across Peru claim the coronavirus pandemic has left the animals in a fight for survival because paying customers have been forced to stay home
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