Update (March 2, 2023): After years of campaigning by PETA and Vinculo Animal, relief is finally in sight for the animals at the Dr. Juan A. Rivero Zoo. The Puerto Rican government has ordered the permanent closure of the decrepit roadside zoo after years of animal neglect and suffering. Staff from The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado, which is accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, have assessed the animals, and many will be transferred there. Plans for the final placement of all the animals are still being evaluated. Thank you to everyone who helped push to make this happen.
The Dr. Juan A. Rivero Zoo in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico’s only “zoo,” reportedly confines 280 animals to rundown, unsafe, and filthy enclosures, which have surely only worsened after Hurricane Maria devastated the area in 2017. Because the facility is still closed to the public, the current state of the animals is unknown.
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The roadside zoo was repeatedly cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for appalling animal welfare violations before its license was canceled in 2018. It failed to handle newborn tiger cubs properly—resulting in their mother’s apparent rejection of them and their eventual death—and failed to provide a thin tiger, who reportedly later died, with adequate veterinary care. Reports show that the facility failed even to notice that animals—such as a rhino suffering with a mass—were in need of veterinary attention.
Mundi, the sole African elephant there, lacks the expansive habitat and social companionship that are so critical to her well-being, and she continues to be dominated through the use of bullhooks (a sharp steel-tipped object that resembles a fireplace poker). Depriving her of everything that’s natural and important to her for human benefit is a form of speciesism—a human-supremacist worldview.