Seized ‘Narco-Pets’ Fill Mexico’s Zoos

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Officials in Mexico are scrambling to house exotic animals confiscated from the collections of drug kingpins, according to a report from the Associated Press.

According to the·report, Mexico’s zoos are increasingly becoming home to the menageries of drug kingpins, who collect wild animals as status symbols to show off their wealth. ·As the article notes, one of the most diverse “narco-zoos” discovered in recent years belonged to Jesus “El Rey” Zambada, the jailed brother of Sinaloa Cartel kingpin Ismael Zambada García, alias “El Mayo.”

When Zambada was arrested in 2008 on drug trafficking charges, police found 200 different animals, ranging from mules to ostriches and peacocks. The animals had been housed on Zambada’s luxury 16-acre ranch, amidst lavish gardens and stables full of purebred horses. Now, some have been relocated to the Zacango Zoo, located about an hour outside Mexico City.

But not all of the confiscated creatures are so lucky, according to the World Wildlife Fund spokesperson in Mexico, Adrian Reuter Cortes. “Within the limited resources of the Mexican government, there are a lot of efforts to ensure the welfare of these animals,” Reuter told the AP. “But even the zoos have limits, and can’t welcome all the animals.”

Mexican zoos are not alone in experiencing this phenomenon. A ranch owned by Colombian drug dealer Pablo Escobar, the Hacienda Napoles, is now a popular theme park which contains several descendants of the exotic animals kept in his zoo. Three of his hippopotamuses escaped the facility in 2006, and lived around the nearby Magdalena Medio river for some years.

Below is the AP’s video report on the story, and several images of animals belonging to Mexico’s “narco-zoos,” courtesy of La Primera Plana

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