Human Interest

Activists denounce giraffe’s living conditions in northern Mexico

By Martin Coronado

Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Jul 7 (EFE).- Animal activists have expressed outrage over the inadequate living conditions for a male giraffe at a public park in this northern Mexican city.

To bring attention to the situation and denounce the inaction of local authorities, they have painted a mural on the border crossing separating Ciudad Juarez and the US city of El Paso, Texas.

According to the activists, those officials are failing to provide proper care for Benito and promoting his “slow death.”

Just over a year ago, local residents were saddened by the death of Modesto, a giraffe that had lived for 20 years in Ciudad Juarez’s Central Park.

Modesto had been one of the main attractions of that facility, which is run by the Chihuahua state government.

But the park’s visitors were treated on May 4 to a new giraffe named Benito, a 4.3-meter-tall (14-foot-tall) three-year-old animal from a zoo in the western Mexican city of Culiacan.

Two months later, Mexican activists told Efe that Benito’s living conditions are woefully inadequate and will only lead to his early death.

“They want the same thing that happened to Modesto to happen to Benito,” Perla Cristina Vazquez, a member of the animal rescue group Hogar de Perritas de Amor, told Efe.

The activists said the enclosure housing Benito is too small and that the giraffe has no shelter from the sun or rain.

They also denounced a lack of sufficient food for the giraffe and the fact that visitors are being allowed to feed him.

In addition, Ciudad Juarez’s extreme fluctuations in temperature, which can rise to as high as 45 C (113 F) in the summer and fall to as low -10 C (14 F) in the winter, make that city unsuitable for a giraffe.

Three groups of animal activists have symbolically shut down the public park housing the giraffe and held protests denouncing the animals slow “sacrifice.”

“This is abhorrent, very sad, lamentable. It makes me sad that the citizens support these politicians,” Vazquez said.

Giraffes are facing “a silent extinction,” according to figures from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which says the population of the world’s tallest land mammal has declined by 40 percent over the past 30 years.

“Animals are universal. We need to protect giraffes globally, both in the United States and in Mexico,” Susana Renteria Ochoa, a member of the Somos Su Voz (We’re Their Voice) organization, told Efe.

“And we want the giraffe here to live like giraffes are living in the United States. There’s now a sanctuary that receives giraffes in Dallas.”

“We can’t have an animal as an attraction. They’re not attractions,” the activist said.

The mural denouncing the giraffe’s living conditions can be seen from El Paso and the top of the Paso del Norte International Bridge.

“We’re their voice. Lets save Benito. Central Park is not a zoo,” the mural says. EFE

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