Translated using Google translate. Original Spanish version at https://www.elvocero.com/gobierno/agencias/activista-compara-traslado-de-mundi-con-un-escenario-de-guerra/article_e0bf40e8-f5ba-11ed-a2c5-e3ef925ed5b9.html
She admits that she made a mistake by posting that the elephant was ready to go
At night, Carol Buckley, founder of Elephant Aid International (EAI), would get out of her trailer to feed the elephant Mundi and check that she had water, but not before making sure that the vehicle that served as her home during her stay in the Mayagüez zoo was locked.
This was, Buckley said, the only security measure she implemented after federal agents asked her to leave the area because they detected physical threats against her person and her pachyderm.
In a short time, Mundi was wounded by buckshot and suffered burns to her mouth from food containing an abrasive substance, prompting federal agencies to tighten security in the area.
“It was like a war zone,” said the activist, who had to arrive on the island a week ahead of schedule to help the elephant get used to the cage in which she would be transferred to a sanctuary in the United States because “There were already problems”.
The issues, Buckley noted, were mainly because “zoo staff and management were not cooperating and were doing things to block the process of placing animals in cages for transport.”
One of these instances occurred with a young camel, which was about to enter the space in which it was going to be transported when a group of employees began to yell, causing the animal to jump and almost hit itself.
Mundi was abandoned
Upon arrival, the animal behavior expert met with the two people assigned to Mundi’s care to plead with them to assist in efforts to acclimatize the elephant to the travel cage, as she trusted them and his presence would calm her down.
“They were upset and furious that Mundi was leaving and they wanted nothing to do with the process. I explained to them that it was the best thing for Mundi and I clarified that neither they nor I had control of the decision since it was something that both governments (state and federal) agreed to and it was going to happen even if we did not agree,” Buckley recalled about the unsuccessful conversation, as the keepers refused to cooperate.
In addition to the lack of collaboration, Buckley assured that, daily, groups of up to four employees walked through the space where Mundi lived, speaking loudly and making noises.
“They were voices and a vehicle that Mundi knew, so she would go to see if they would greet her, but never in the two weeks I was there did they stop. She would run to a corner with such hope and they would just keep going. Mundi eventually realized that she had been abandoned,” she mentioned.
Seizures and poisoning
Meanwhile, Buckley understands that she made a mistake in posting that “Mundi was ready to go” which, in her opinion, caused efforts to block the move to become more drastic and dangerous.
“At about 5:30 in the afternoon Mundi was eating inside the cage when I heard a noise, but since we are close to an electric generator I did not register. Suddenly Mundi jumped, opened his eyes, fluttered his ears, and began to stick his trunk and tail around one side. She then began to cover herself with mud. She did not return to the cage and stopped eating for 12 hours. Then, when this part swelled up, I realized that they had shot her with pellets, ”she explained.
The next day, Buckley saw Mundi on a corner where zoo staff used to visit her. Moving into space she found two whole carrots. Later, she opened the pachyderm’s mouth while she was bathing it, allowing her to see a white ring-shaped wound, which she believes is consistent with an acid or chlorine burn.
“They did everything they could, short of killing her, to try to keep her there. I took photos of her and reported everything,” Buckley said, noting that two weeks prior to his arrival, USDA personnel found empty boxes of rat poison near Mundi’s yard and that the elephant had to be treated for poisoning.
The feds aren’t happy
On the other hand, the activist stressed that “the federal government is not happy” about what happened before and during Mundi’s transfer, since the agreements were not followed to the letter.
“They have the proof, so you have to see if they want to use it or just want to get out of this mess and let Puerto Rico resolve itself. My experience is that it is difficult to get them to charge people with abuse, unless the animal is dead and they can prove the cause”, Buckley commented on the investigations carried out by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI, in English) and the Service of Investigations. Fish and Wildlife of the United States (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) on the facts.
Buckley stressed the importance that actions against Mundi have consequences given the impunity that reigns at the zoo, where rescuers are still working on efforts to move the animals to sanctuaries in various parts of the United States.
“I think it’s up to the feds from what angle they’re going to approach the situation. I gave them all the evidence I had,” she insisted.
Anticipate that research will not have results
On the other hand, the founder of the EAI predicted that the internal investigation ordered by the secretary of the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DRNA), Anaís Rodríguez Vega, will not yield any results.
“They are not going to do anything to them (zoo staff) and they know it. That’s why the situation got out of control, because no one came and told them to ‘stop’, because they didn’t want to tell them to stop,” she opined.
Likewise, Buckley warned that the impediment of the transfers continues and that people like the executive director of The Wild Animal Sanctuary, Pat Craig and his wife, do not have the support of the zoo staff to advance the work.