Colombian zoos are experiencing their own coronavirus crisis
The coronavirus has also hit Colombia's zoos, in crisis due to the mandatory closure due to the quarantine that has left them without money or means to maintain and feed more than 12,000 animals of different species that they are in charge of.
With more than 2.7 million visitors per year, box office revenues are the main source of financing in Colombia for twelve spaces dedicated to education, research, conservation and recreation, so the closure to the public significantly impacts their financial sustainability. short term.
According to sources in the sector, the animals in the zoos of Barranquilla, Cali, Santa Fe (Medellín), Piscilago (Melgar), Guátika (Tibasosa), and Santacruz (San Antonio del Tequendama), have already begun to have difficulties because their administrators have not they have resources to feed the animals.
To these are added the Parque Explora aquariums, in Medellín; Rodadero and Mundo Marino, in Santa Marta; the Rosario Islands Oceanarium and the National Aviary of Colombia, both in Cartagena; as well as the Los Ocarros Biopark, in Villavicencio.
The director of the Barranquilla Zoo, Farah Ajami Peralta, told Efe that "many of the animals that live in the zoo have been rescued because they were kept illegally as pets, and here they are given a new opportunity, since they cannot be rehabilitated and released into their habitats. "
"The Barranquilla zoo closed the public preventively but its operation does not stop because it is necessary to continue guaranteeing daily the food, health and other care of the animals," added Ajami, who specified that they need to collect 250 million pesos (some $ 63,000) monthly until July, to ensure the survival of the different species.
This park was inaugurated in Barranquilla almost 70 years ago and today it is responsible for caring for 800 animals of 130 species from Colombia and the world, many of which are in danger of extinction, Ajami recalled.
The director of the Parque Zoológico Santa Fe, in Medellín, Jorge Aubad Echeverri, told Efe that "it requires a team of 94 people who are responsible for animal welfare, including biologists, veterinarians, zootechnicians, technicians, operators and people who make the habitat maintenance "
"We are going to celebrate a month of having closed doors and obviously with zero income and with an operation that is close to 500 million pesos per month (about $ 126,000), it becomes very difficult and resources are depleted," he said.
Convinced that the national quarantine that began on March 25, and that was preceded by other measures of citizen isolation "is going to continue", Aubad adds that they are beginning to think of "a long closure, and for this reason we opened an account to cash donations. "
Other zoos have also enabled the tools to receive donations of money through the Internet on their web pages.
As he explained, all animals have many requirements, and some due to their size, such as jaguars, cougars, and bears, have high food consumption, but there are also some small primates that must be closely monitored by veterinarians.
In the midst of this emergency, the Colombian Association of Zoological Parks, Aquariums and the Like (Acopazoa), which groups the twelve institutions of its kind in the country, requested help from the Government to continue supporting the 12,200 specimens they are in charge of.
In a communication sent to the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, the twelve zoos and aquariums explain that they have, even with a reduced operation due to the absence of visitors, monthly expenses of about 1,786 million pesos (about $ 445,000).
In Colombia, many of the animals that are in zoos are not candidates for release because they belong to exotic species originating from other continents or are specimens delivered to the parks, as caretakers, by the same environmental authorities.