Puerto Rico’s only zoo, Zoológico de Mayagüez Juan A. Rivero, had years of complaints. Activists questioned the facility’s conditions, which they claim were the cause of some of the animal’s mistreatment, lack of veterinarian care, and even death.
Now, the 45-acre zoo, inaugurated in 1954, will be permanently closed.
Puerto Rico’s Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DRNA) confirmed that the animals would be transferred to different sanctuaries across the United States. The news was delivered by the DRNA’s secretary, Anaís Rodríguez, during a radio interview via Puerto Rico’s popular radio station, WKAQ-580.
“Given the tourist, fiscal reality of the country and new concepts in modern cities, we have moved to a reconceptualization of space. This new concept does not include animals for the space occupied by the Mayagüez zoo,” Rodríguez said during the interview (translated from the Spanish language to English).
What is happening to the Mayagüez zoo’s animals now?
Organizations such as Vínculo Animal y ProBono ONDA had been trying to reach the DRNA for answers for months, but no one ever responded.
As reported by Primera Hora, activists also gathered in protest over the last two weeks to urge for a change in the zoo of Mayagüez. They had been trying to move the needle on this for years and understood that time was of the essence.
For a long time, activists urged the federal prosecutor in Puerto Rico, W. Stephen Muldrow, to step in and evaluate the zoo’s condition.
Thanks to various animal rights organizations joining their forces, including Animal Legal Defense Fund, an intervention was able to be carried out.
According to the Associated Press, the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado traveled to Puerto Rico to inspect the well-being of the animals. The press spoke to the sanctuary’s executive director, Pat Craig, but he said he couldn’t disclose much due to the U.S. Justice Department’s involvement.
However, Craig did say that he estimates that up to 50 percent of Mayagüez zoo’s animals will be transferred at no cost to Puerto Rico’s government. Unfortunately, primates or unique birds wouldn’t be taken in due to Colorado’s weather.
“We want to avoid unnecessary controversies. Animal welfare comes first,” Puerto Rico’s governor Pedro Pierluisi said of the situation.