It all started after the death of a deer in the Chilpancingo zoo, in Guerrero. On January 14, Maximino Organista, a neighbor of the Jardines Zinnia subdivision, posted on his Facebook profile that he had found an injured deer near his house. Some dogs had bitten the animal and had injured one leg. The man protected the deer at home and called the authorities who took it to the Zoochilpan zoo to be treated. The animal ended up dying days later and various animal associations denounced the place for mistreatment. What seemed like an isolated case, however, has uncovered a whole network of corruption of the director where the animals were sold, exchanged illegally and sacrificed for human consumption.
The environmental authorities have made public that four pygmy goats, of the 10 that exist in the park, were sacrificed and cooked in the zoo’s own facilities for New Year’s dinner on the orders of the director, José Rubén Nava Noriega, who had been a few months in office. The director has been removed from his position and faces charges for species trafficking and animal abuse, in addition to crimes against health. “With this fact, the health of consumers is put at risk because they were not animals suitable for human consumption,” said the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources of Guerrero (Semaren), Ángel Almazán Juárez.
The Secretary for the Environment has indicated that among the irregularities detected is the exchange of other species and the presentation of apocryphal invoices from a family business from Nava to justify the money transfers. The director negotiated to deliver four watusis bulls to an individual in the State of Mexico in exchange for tools and supplies, however, Almazán assures that neither the materials nor the tools that appear in the transaction document have been found in the facilities, signed on December 8. Among the irregularities is also the exchange of a zebra, worth about 80,000 pesos, to another person in Querétaro in exchange for three red deer, worth 15,000 pesos each. The authorities point out that the Zoochilpan management did not notify Semaren or the Ministry of the Environment (Semarnat) or the Environmental Protection Agency (Profepa) of said exchanges, in accordance with what is dictated by the animal preservation protocols for the zoos across the country. Currently the zoo has 520 specimens of 89 different species.
Almazán Juárez also pointed out that during Nava Noriega’s time as head of Zoochilpan there were several births that were not registered and false deaths. So far, the whereabouts of at least 14 species are unknown, including a jaguarundi -a small feline-, a coyote, 10 reptiles, a baby macaw and a red-tailed hawk. Regarding the deer rescued in mid-January and taken to the zoo, the authorities reported that it was not cared for “properly” and ended up dying. “His leg was sutured without anesthesia and his antlers were cut off,” they pointed out at the conference. The Chilpancingo zoo scandal reveals the deficient control that federal and state authorities have of this type of private enclosures, spread throughout the country.
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