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A lion, a camel and a bear say goodbye to a zoo in Puerto Rico

Time to say goodbye.

Seven lions, a bear, a camel and even a porcupine left Puerto Rico’s only zoo for a new home in Colorado on Friday.

A US-based animal rescue group has started relocating animals under a plan to find them better places than zoos, where Various species have died out.

Zoo staff and wildlife sanctuary staff prepared the big cats and other animals for the long journey.

Puerto Rico Zoo

A camel peers out of a transport cage at Puerto Rico’s only zoo in Mayagüez, Friday, April 28, 2023. Puerto Rico is closing the US territory’s only zoo after years of suspected neglect, lack of resources and animal deaths. was highlighted by staff. Most of the animals are being relocated to wildlife sanctuaries in Colorado.

Alejandro Granadillo/AP

Activists have long blamed the US territory’s government for more than a decade of reported animal deaths and illnesses at the zoo in the western city of Mayaguez.

Wildlife sanctuaries oversee the removal of zoo animals and other animals. They will initially be moved to a shelter in Colorado until a permanent home can be found for them.

Some smaller specimens, such as reptiles and some monkeys, had already migrated, but larger mammals such as lions, bears, and camels required special arrangements to travel.

Two pumas have died in zoos in the past decade, a government-appointed committee said. It raised concerns about an underweight chimpanzee as well as a rhinoceros called Phillip that was sexed and said there was a lack of shelter for the animals.

In January, Nina, an American black bear who stopped eating, died of a heart attack at the age of 20. Black bears can live up to 35 years in captivity.

In March, federal authorities said they were dropping all investigations into the zoo after reaching an agreement with local officials to transfer the animals to a sanctuary on the U.S. mainland. This announcement angered many activists.

The zoo originally opened in 1954, but has been closed since Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017.

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