Mexican firm likely to face charges for animal neglect

(BBC News) Advertisement Marineland North in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is likely to face criminal charges for allegedly neglecting its animals after years of raids and court challenges, conservationists say. As has happened elsewhere in…

Mexican firm likely to face charges for animal neglect

(BBC News) Advertisement

Marineland North in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is likely to face criminal charges for allegedly neglecting its animals after years of raids and court challenges, conservationists say.

As has happened elsewhere in Mexico, the zoo was closed in 2011 and its animals are facing imminent death due to poor living conditions, groups representing animals have said.

Three raids in the last 10 years have returned more than 100 animals to the hands of the zoological park.

It is the latest success in a campaign to protect Marineland from closure.

A recent aerial inspection, ordered by Mexico’s Federal Commission of Environmental Protection (CEFEP), uncovered life-threatening conditions, including wild animals trapped in underground tunnels and lacking food and water.

“This is a great victory,” local conservationist Chiara Forti told the BBC.

“It means Mexico has taken it seriously and the authorities are going to act.”

Felix Globa, a spokesman for Yucatan conservation groups Chiquimulao and Dogon, expressed particular gratitude for the CEFEP, whose findings are due to be presented to the Mexican Supreme Court.

“This shows the CEFEP is a force for the protection of the animal species,” he told the BBC.

He also singled out CEFEP officers “for discovering the living conditions of the animals and preventing their cruel death”.

Mr Globa urged authorities to take “criminal charges against Marineland”.

In its most recent raid, dozens of CEFEP officials returned last week from an inspection of the zoo, where they took video footage of the animals’ injuries.

They were joined by officials from the state prosecutor’s office and national police.

The authorities returned animals after questions were raised about the animal welfare situation

Marineland says in a statement that it has suffered “years of false accusations, circus-style exploitation and exploitation from some high-profile individuals within the population of non-native animals”.

Marineland spokeswoman Maureen Fravor said they were working to establish the relevant capacity to implement “humane treatment” for the animals and that they would make public any needed steps in this regard.

“Marineland North remains fully owned and operated by Uwe Johannsson, a German citizen who is a previous guest owner. Marineland is evaluating the action it should take to ensure that the animals are treated humanely and in accordance with Mexican laws,” she said.

Mr Johannsson’s predecessor, the zoologist Jim McGinnis, left the business in 2012 after nearly three decades to become deputy director of the Mexican Wildlife Federation.

Mr McGinnis was forced to close the zoo a year later after being charged with animal cruelty. The animals remained there for four years, until a raid the following year.

And in 2014, a man sued the owner of the park for negligence, claiming that elephants had died.

Three years later, US billionaire real estate investor Donald Trump closed the park and sold the animals to a Mexican entrepreneur.

Since then, there have been two more raids in 2012 and 2017.

The park closed in 2011 as a result of fines and court cases

Campaigners are now calling for another raid in an attempt to protect Marineland’s animals.

The vast majority of the dozens of animals released to various owners have since died, including elephants and deer.

Several are on their deathbeds, Yucatan conservationists say.

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