Translated by Jesús Ronquillo / Circuito Frontera
After a series of protests and bureaucratic procedures, the giraffe Benito, inhabitant of Parque Central, will be transferred to the sanctuary “Africam Safari” in the next few days, after the results of several inspections carried out by the Federal Attorney’s Office for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA) were made public.
Benito’s case evidenced that the Parque Central committed multiple omissions to safeguard his integrity, including the following.
- Inadequate Feeding: Since his arrival, the food provided to Benito was not aligned with the approved management plan, which is essential for his health and well-being.
- Inadequate Facilities: Benito’s enclosure did not meet the specifications approved in the management plan, a vital aspect to ensure his safety and comfort.
- Outdated Management Plan: parque central should have submitted an updated management plan for Benito, considering the specific characteristics of the species and the climate of Ciudad Juarez.
- Construction Stress: The constant presence of workers and machinery in the enclosure, due to construction work, generated considerable stress in Benito, affecting his mental and physical health.
- Exposure to Severe Weather Conditions: During the winter season, Benito was exposed to low temperatures without adequate shelter, putting his health at risk.
- Lack of Food Surveillance and Control: No surveillance mechanisms were implemented to control Benito’s diet, increasing the risk of health problems due to an uncontrolled diet.
- Non-Compliance with Medical Checkups: Preventive medical checkups performed on Benito were not fully compliant with the requirements of the management plan.
- Delay in Upgrades and Enhancements: There were significant delays in the improvements and expansions needed for Benito’s enclosure, affecting his quality of life.
- Lack of Preventive Welfare Actions: The authorities did not take adequate preventive measures to protect Benito from weather extremes, nor to ensure his psychological well-being.
- Neglect of Mental Health: Benito’s psychological well-being was compromised by the ongoing stress caused by construction activities and the lack of a calm and stable environment.
- Inattention to Extreme Weather: The lack of foresight and measures to protect Benito from extreme temperatures in Ciudad Juarez has been a serious omission.
- Non-compliance with Improvement Commitments: Despite commitments to improve the conditions of the Benito site, the Central Park did not make the necessary modifications in the agreed timeframe.
- Lack of a Visitor Control Mechanism: An effective system to control visitor access and interaction with Benito was not implemented, which could have negatively affected his behavior and well-being.
- Violations of the General Wildlife Law: Non-compliance with the regulations established in the General Wildlife Law has been a constant in the management of Benito’s case.
Due to this situation, the document issued by PROFEPA states that after numerous evaluations and in recognition of the need for a more suitable environment for Benito, it orders Benito’s transfer to the wildlife conservation park “Africam Safari”, located in Puebla.
However, PROFEPA pointed out that any decision regarding Benito’s transfer is its responsibility, in coordination with the General Wildlife Directorate of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.
Also, Parque Central has pending responsibilities for Benito’s care and well-being, which have not been adequately fulfilled.
Regarding the decision of the federal authorities, this morning, through his official Twitter account, the governor of Puebla, Sergio Salomón Céspedes, published that he recently had a call with PROFEPA authorities, who informed him that Benito’s transfer to “Africam Safari” is “official”.
However, the fight to save Benito’s life has been going on for more than eight months, led by activists who seek to ensure that animal rights are respected and that the welfare of those who have no voice is guaranteed.
The collective “Save Benito” and the Council “We Are His Voice” initiated a series of protests and visits to government agencies at all levels of government to ensure the welfare of the giraffe, although their requests had been ignored.
This is an achievement for the animal community, since they were the ones who fought for the rights of this species.
It was not until January 12 that the Federal Attorney General’s Office for Environmental Protection, the Subprocuraduría de Recursos Naturales, and the Dirección General de Inspección y Vigilancia de Vida Silvestre (General Directorate of Wildlife Inspection and Surveillance) issued a document in which they pointed out a series of omissions made by Parque Central from the moment it arrived on this border.
The document points out the series of omissions made by Parque Central from the moment it arrived at this border.
- May 4, 2023: Benito, a 3-year-old male giraffe, is transferred from the zoo in Culiacán, Sinaloa to Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua.
- June 15, 2023: PROFEPA conducts an inspection which identifies several deficiencies in the care and facilities for Benito, including problems with temperature and the lack of an adequate night room for the animal.
- July 5, 2023: Evaluates whether the improvements recommended in the previous review have been implemented. The document indicates that no evidence of significant improvements was presented.
- October 23, 2023: PROFEPA issues an order to parque central granting 10 working days to make essential improvements to Benito’s habitat.
- November 8, 2023: parque central responds without showing any impediments to make the improvements, but without mentioning a concrete action plan.
- October 25: Verification visits reveal that the promised improvements have not been made.
- November 21: Corrective actions began and were expected to be completed by December 29. However, they were not complied with.
- November 23: Verification visits reveal that the committed improvements have not been made.
- January 12, 2024: parque central submits allegations in response to PROFEPA’s order, but does not evidence compliance with the required measures.
The document also indicated that after the series of inspections and evaluations, PROFEPA will impose severe sanctions and urgent measures to Parque Central since the welfare of Benito was not guaranteed.
Therefore, the parque central will be subject to an economic sanction of one million, 556,100 pesos, based on the General Wildlife Law, for not guaranteeing a dignified and respectful treatment of Benito.
Despite the seizure, the Parque Central was designated as Benito’s temporary depository, until the necessary medical and technical conditions for his transfer to a suitable place can be met.
Also, the conditions for Benito’s transfer should be as soon as possible, efficient and with the least possible stress, which implies advance planning and having all the necessary veterinary, vehicular and personnel resources.
Emergency routes and veterinary service contacts along the route should also be considered.
Care should also be provided under veterinary medical direction and on an as-needed basis, and the transport staff should be trained and competent to care for Benito, recognize signs of stress, and handle emergency situations.
CORRECTIVE ACTIONS AT PARQUE CENTRAL
PROFEPA has established a series of measures that Parque Central must implement immediately:
- Installation of heating: In the “barn” type construction to protect Benito in winter and extreme weather conditions.
- Additional shade structures: Extend the existing shade structures to 6 meters in diameter to provide more shaded areas suitable for Benito’s height and conditions.
- Control and monitoring of access to the viewpoint: Implement control mechanisms to avoid harmful behavior towards Benito and visitors, especially in relation to the food provided.
- Responsibility and Legal Obligations: Parque Central, as temporary depository of Benito, is obligated to conserve and return the specimen when PROFEPA determines it. PROFEPA’s staff commission will supervise compliance with these measures and the transfer process.
On Monday morning, members of Africam Safari arrived at the Parque Central to observe Benito’s current environment.