As we walked around the Quistococha zoo (which belongs to the government here), Jerome and I both felt quite sorry for many of the animals. Especially the Pumas and Jaguars that were pacing around in a small, concrete enclosure. It is definitely a great thing that Zoo Peru is helping to better this situation.
We met Roland Noronha Melendes, who started the Iquitos Zoo Peru in 1993, with a man named Antony who is a friend of mine from Australia. The zoo was different back then, with even a puma and ocelot living together in the same enclosure. Now the animals have much better homes, with plantation and natural surroundings, although not all are good due to lack of funding.
Roland was working as an English teacher when he became involved in Zoo Peru. He began cancelling classes to be able to focus full time on helping the animals in the zoo. He doesn’t like to see animals trapped in cages and feels that if they can’t be free in the wild, then someone must care for them properly in a zoo. The dolphin needs a better pool with a tiled floor and many of the other animals such as the Pumas, need natural space to roam around in.
There are three workers at the zoo who take care of all the animals, but when they are on holidays, the animals are taken care of by the government workers. When I say take care I don’t actually mean really take care. About one month ago, a female jaguar and her baby escaped from their exhibition. They escaped because the government workers forgot to shut the gate after feeding them. The mother was caught and put into another exhibition, but unfortunately the baby was shot because he was scaring the tourists.
Another terrible thing that happened about three years ago, was that a government vet killed three ocelots by poisoning them. He did this because supposedly he didn’t like the Zoo Peru workers, and even had the hide to try and blame one of them. Roland went to the government to bring justice to what had happened, but the government did not help.
Although Zoo Peru has helped many animals by building better exhibitions and taking care of the animal’s health, the zoo is still run by the government. The only thing the government give is money for food for the animals and on a rare occasion, some medical expenses. But Zoo Peru has forked out the money for most veterinary help.
Roland says that the animals need a better place to help improve the quality of their lives. They need clean living areas, good food and water, and also medicines. But this is difficult when they know they just have enough money to pay the full time workers for only three more months.
Roland would also love volunteers for his upcoming project, so if you would like to help contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Roland also has a different project that he is working on at the moment with his wife who is currently studying nursing. The project is called Dignity and Honor, and helps to improve the quality of life for others. Roland is creating an educational program for children to learn about the environment and animals, and also about health prevention. Roland and his wife will travel up and down the Amazon teaching communities about flora and fauna, and also how to avoid getting sick.