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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Federal authorities mentioned Wednesday they’re dropping all investigations into Puerto Rico’s lone zoo the place numerous species have died, saying the choice got here after reaching an settlement with native officers to switch the animals to sanctuaries on the U.S. mainland.

The announcement angered many activists who’ve lengthy fought to have the U.S. territory’s authorities held liable for the deaths and ailing well being of animals reported for greater than a decade on the Dr. Juan A. Rivero Zoo within the western city of Mayaguez.

“We can’t change what occurred previously,” U.S. Lawyer Stephen Muldrow mentioned. “Animals died.”

Nevertheless, he pressured that going to court docket would solely delay the switch of the zoo’s remaining animals, which quantity some 300 and vary from a tarantula to a lone elephant.

“The wellbeing of the animals is the primary precedence,” Muldrow mentioned at a press convention.

He added that violations on the zoo spanned “a few years,” with “totally different administrations not having the ability to assure the wellbeing of animals.”

He mentioned it was an institutional downside in addition to an absence of assets: “There was no intentional harm to the animals.”

However activists say ending the federal investigations means impunity prevailed and that no justice will likely be served for the animals that died or fell ailing.

“We had been demanding that the federal authorities do its job: examine violations,” mentioned Christian Ríos, an legal professional and president of an animal rights fee at Puerto Rico’s Affiliation of Attorneys. “This leaves a foul style in our mouths.”

Prior to now decade, a government-appointed committee famous two pumas died and raised issues about an underweight chimpanzee, a rhinoceros named Felipe that was limping and an absence of shelter for animals together with a kangaroo and a porcupine.

In January, an American black bear named Nina who had stopped consuming died from a coronary heart assault at greater than 20 years previous. Black bears can stay as much as 35 years in captivity.

In the meantime, officers final week needed to euthanize a puma that was recognized with most cancers, Muldrow mentioned.

He mentioned practically all of the animals will likely be transferred throughout the subsequent six months, noting that two eagles had been already eliminated as a result of the zoo was not licensed to look after them, and that two owls and two anacondas even have been transferred elsewhere throughout the island.

Earlier this month, Pat Craig, government director of The Wildlife Animal Sanctuary in Colorado and Texas, instructed The Related Press that the group would soak up as much as 50% of the zoo’s animals.

Nevertheless, it’s nonetheless unknown the place sure animals, together with the lone elephant named “Mundi,” would find yourself. Muldrow mentioned officers are looking for an elephant sanctuary since they’re a social species and needs to be saved in teams.

The zoo, which opened in 1954, has remained closed since hurricanes Irma and Maria battered Puerto Rico in September 2017.

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