More Than 50 Animals Starve to Death in Venezuela's Zoos as the Nation Endures Devastating Food Shortages

At least 50 animals have died in the last six months at the Caricuao zoo in Caracas, Venezuela, due to widespread food shortages that are affecting both man and beast in the socialist nation.

Marlene Sifontes, a union leader for employees of state parks agency Inparques which oversees zoos, told Reuters that the zoo lost Vietnamese pigs, tapirs, rabbits and birds after the animals went weeks without eating. Others animals at the zoo are in danger of severe malnutrition. Lions and tigers, which should be on a carnivorous diet, are being fed mango and pumpkin just to get something in their empty stomachs, while an elephant is being fed tropical fruit instead of its usual diet of hay, the union leader said. According to one report, the big cats are being fed slaughtered thoroughbred racehorses from a nearby race track.

The tweet below reportedly shows a picture of one of the tapirs that died of starvation at the Caricuao zoo. The English translation: "Danta from the Caricuao zoo died from hunger according to info sources from the institution. Another in bad conditions."

Danta del zoológico de caricuao murió por hambre según informan fuentes de la institución.otra en malas condiciones pic.twitter.com/9alPFGfiwT

"Other animals suffer from hunger in the Caracas zoo," the tweet below says. "The bison is so weak that it is being pecked at by turkey buzzards." Turkey buzzards — we call them turkey vultures in the U.S. — usually only eat dead animals and they prefer decomposing carcasses, which gives you an indication of the poor condition of this bison.

“The story of the animals at Caricuao is a metaphor for Venezuelan suffering,” Sifontes said.

Next page: What about other zoos in Venezuela?