Local government in Tunis made a sad announcement on their Facebook page. One of the crocodiles in the Belvédère Zoo, located in the center of the Tunisian capital, was savagely attacked by visitors and killed with stones on Wednesday, March 1.
(Caution, some images may be graphic.)
Source: Municipalité de Tunis
“A group of visitors threw stones at the head of a crocodile, which provoked internal hemorrhaging and caused his death. […] Savage behavior,” explained the city spokesman via social media, sharing the difficult images where we can see the bloodied animal.
Source: Municipalité de Tunis
Dr. Amor Ennaifer, veterinarian at the zoo, specified to the French news organization, AFP, that the animal was hit in the eye by two large stones. “It’s terrible. You can’t imagine what these animals endure from certain visitors,” he said, dismayed.
The affair incited strong emotions in Tunisia, and a number of people called for authorities and zoo managers to take action. A petition was launched on the platform Avaaz.org to demand the Tunisian president to “punish the criminals” responsible for the death of the crocodile.
A zoo regularly sanctioned
The Belvédère Zoo, constructed in 1963, has regularly faced criticism for the extremely precarious and unhealthy conditions of their installations.
In March 2016, images showing the enclosures full of garbage scandalized animal activists. To justify themselves, the park organizers attributed it to the overcrowding during the period of summer holidays and the irresponsible behavior of certain visitors.
“Citizens leave behind their garbage, plastic bags (…). They throw stones at lions and hippos,” criticized Amor Ennaifer, the day after the death of the crocodile.
Interviewed by the site, Jeune Afrique, Marwen, a 29-year-old Tunisian who recently visited the zoo, explained:
People give anything to animals to eat, without any surveillance. I don’t I saw any zookeepers inside, so we could do whatever we wanted. Not surprising they were able to kill a crocodile…
Several photos showing starving animals and showing them in poor health were also spread on social media, reinforcing the poor reputation of the animal park.
In reaction to the death of the crocodile, protestors peacefully gathered on March 5, to denounce the lax attitudes of officials and the critical states of certain animals kept in Belvédère, renamed “the zoo of death” for the occasion.
The Tunisian deputy, Hager Ben Cheikh, announced on March 2, the need for an “emergency meeting” to put together a “plan of action” to save the zoo, including installing security cameras and security barriers of plexiglass around enclosures.
While some zoos may be educational and informative, animals were not put on this earth to be trapped in small enclosures for humans to look at and take selfies with.
They deserve to be in the wild, enjoying their freedom and not suffering cramped and terrible living conditions for the sake of visitors.
To find out more about what you can do, visit PETA’s campaign to shut down zoos.
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