The economic crisis afflicting Puerto Rico for the last decade has also taken a toll on the island's only zoo, with critics saying it is sorely understaffed and struggling to care for its animals on a limited budget.
The 45-acre Dr. Juan A. Rivero zoo has remained closed to the public since Hurricane Irma brushed past Puerto Rico in early September 2017 as a Category 5 storm, followed by a direct hit from Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm. There where already concerns about the animals' health prior to the storms, given the zoo's financial constraints amid a 12-year recession.
The USDA has revoked the zoo's license. Currently they have no operating/exhibiting permits or License.
We are asking that Mundi, the solitary African elephant, be moved to and re-homed at a true sanctuary. Please sign the petition in support of "Sanctuary for Mundi".
UPDATE on petition (3/11/19)
Many people may be unaware, but the original contract between Puerto Rico and Elephant Refuge North America (ERNA), located in Attapulgus, Georgia, USA, was terminated December 28, 2018. The contract was originally signed by DRD. The DRD is the agency who was in charge of operations of zoo in May, 2018. A new agency, DRNA, has since taken over the operations of the zoo. The Secretary of DRNA recently traveled to ERNA, before making a public statement regarding the cancellation of said contract. Carol Buckley, Elelphant Aid International (EIA) filed for an injunction in the courts of Puerto Rico. The judge determined that the plaintiff (EAI/ERNA) could not prove irreparable damages.
At this time, Mundi belongs to the government PR. Mundi remains at the closed and unlicensed Mayagüez zoo which still is without any hired, licensed veterinary.
Dear Governor Ricardo Rosselló & First Lady Beatriz Rosselló,
Everyday, as I read the news, I am so saddened by all the arguing over Mundi, from both sides. I look into Mundi's eyes and weep for her. My heart aches. I know with out a doubt that the people of Puerto Rico love her. And I understand how difficult all of this is. I empathize with the tremendous stress and pressure you are under in regards to this matter.
Today, I am writing to you both to offer my gratitude and sincere thanks to you both for considering Mundi's well-being and putting her needs in the forefront. That is what we should all be united in, what is best for Mundi.
I know that Mundi's caretakers love her and care for her. They consider Mundi family. And family is so important. However, as much as she is loved by the people, Mundi needs to be with her own kind in order to be truly happy and healthy; both physically and psychologically. Mundi needs to form her own family (herd).
It has been rumored that a visit to other USA true sanctuaries was made and there may be considerations as to a future home for Mundi. Thank you so much for considering other options and keeping Mundi's best interest at heart.
Were you aware that Nosey, who is living at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, came from Zimbabwe at the same time as Mundi? Both were part of the Jumbolaire elephants. What if Mundi is somehow related? We have no idea but wouldn't that be a lovely and heartwarming reunion? You know elephants never forget.
But even if they are not related, they are still family as they where all stolen from their true family and home together. They suffered the long plane flight over the ocean to a strange land together. They had to rely on each other's comfort and companionship (as babies) for two years before they where once again divided up and given to circuses and zoos. It is rumored that Nosey and Mundi spent time in the same circus and that is how Mundi obtained the injury to her eye. There is no proof of this, only hear say. If for any reason it is true, it is wrong to accuse any being for their actions while in captivity. If Nosey was the one to hurt Mundi this happened when they were very small children and it couldn't have come from any ill intent.
Let me tell you briefly about some elephants at Global Sanctuary for Elephants in Brazil; Maia & Guida. They are two Elephants rescued a little over two years ago after decades in the circus. When Maia and Guida were in the same circus and even when they were moved to a farm (prior to Sanctuary), Maia was very aggressive towards Guida. She would even knock her down.
In a short two years these two lovely ladies have become the closest, most incredibly bonded friends ever. They look after and watch over one another. Their friendship is truly beautiful and magical. That is what giving autonomy and freedom to make your own choices does for ones soul.
Global just brought a new rescue, Rana (she is an x-circus Elephant who's been an attraction at a hotel). Maia and Guida are accepting her as their sister and their relationships are blooming. The reason I tell you this is because none of these elephants are related (Rana came from a completely different situation and location), but they are all family.
Did you know that the Mendoza Zoo in Argentina has agreed to send all four of their elephants (three Asian & one African) to Global Sanctuary for Elephants? The new administration concluded that it would be of greater benefit to the Elephants.
In May 2011, the Toronto Zoo voted to end their elephant program and send all three of their African elephants Toka, Thika and Iringa to the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) sanctuary in California. Sadly, PAWS had to say a final good-bye to elephant Iringa, who was humanely euthanized on July 22, 2015. She had a long history of degenerative joint and foot disease, the leading reasons for euthanizing elephants in captivity. Thika and Toka are thriving in their new environment. PAWS executive director Ed Stewart says 'you live for short moments where you actually succeeded' at giving elephants 'something natural.'
Patricia Derby, a former elephant trainer for movies and television who is founding director of the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), which runs the San Andreas elephant sanctuary: "We can provide more space and better care," Derby says of the advantages of sanctuaries over zoos. "You have to treat each elephant as an individual. They need space, companions, and a variety of things to do."
Governor & First Lady Rosselló, I implore you to put yourself in Mundi's position for just a minute. No family, no companionship. Can you imagine? I can't. I was just reading about the importance of companionship to elephants. It is the number one thing they need most in their life to be happy, healthy and thriving. To be with their own kind. To feel the touch of another's trunk, shoulder. To hear the sound of a welcoming gentle rumble, an excited trumpet. Those are the things these elephants need so desperately to be truly happy. Nothing can replace these things, not even the love and care of good people.
Please don't let Mundi's chance at joy and happiness slip through the cracks. Please give her the ultimate display of true, unselfish love. Let her go to a true sanctuary, where Mundi can flourish in her own autonomy. I promise you wont regret it. I promise the people of Puerto Rico will be overjoyed in watching Mundi blossom at sanctuary. It will fill their hearts with sincere joy and love.
Thank you very much for your time and consideration.