The former director of a zoo in southern Mexico killed four of the zoo’s pygmy goats and served them up at a Christmas-season party, authorities said.
José Rubén Nava was replaced as director of the local zoo in the city of Chilpancingo on Jan. 12 following the death of a deer there.
But officials said Wednesday that an investigation found some of the animals in the zoo’s collection had allegedly been sold off, traded or eaten under Nava’s orders.
The state environment department said a zebra was traded for tools and deer and Watusi cattle were traded off to private individuals, without proper accounting.
It was not clear if Nava had been formally charged in the case, or if he had a lawyer.
But the most shocking accusation was made by Fernando Ruiz Gutierrez, the state environment department’s director of wildlife. He said Nava had four of the zoo’s male pygmy goats killed and cooked for an end-of-year banquet.
“These four animals slaughtered and cooked on the zoo’s premises, and were served as food at the year-end party,” Ruiz Gutierrez said.
“This put the health of the people who ate them at risk, because these animals were not fit for human consumption,” he said.
Nava also allegedly traded the zoo’s zebra for some tools needed to fix things around the zoo, but an inspection did not locate any such tools at the facility.
Mexico has long had a problem with private citizens illegally acquiring exotic animals. For years, drug traffickers in Mexico have been known to build private menageries of lions, tigers and other wild animals. They sometimes escape, sowing panic.
In the central city of Aguascalientes, state police said a loose lion attacked and seriously injured a woman on the patio of her home. The lion apparently escaped from a nearby home. The woman was hospitalized with injuries to her legs, skull and a lung.
The lion also attacked two dogs and a cat. It was captured Tuesday and sent to a local zoo.
Last year, authorities hauled away 177 lions, tigers, jaguars and other exotic big cats that were found at an animal rescue center in the mountains on Mexico City’s south side.
Mexican narcos have long had a fascination with exotic animals.
Last year, a spider monkey dressed up as a drug gang mascot was found shot to death after a gunbattle. Photos from the scene of a shootout in Texcaltitlan with police in which 11 drug gang members died, showed a small monkey – dressed in a tiny camouflage jacket and a tiny “bullet-proof” vest – sprawled across the body of a dead gunman who was apparently his owner.
Also last year, a 450-pound tiger wandered streets in the Pacific coast state of Nayarit, and a man died from being mauled when he tried to pet a captive tiger in a cartel-dominated area of western Michoacan state.