Wednesday, August 6, 2014

In Memory of Alonso, the Jaguar

A few days ago a ten-year old jaguar named Alonso escaped his enclosure at the Lovech Zoo, and hid in the abundant forest surrounding the zoo.  A search party was sent to tranquilize and capture the animal, to no avail.  Instead, Alonso was shot and killed by local hunters.

Now, this story actually should read as following - a careless (and surely unmotivated and underpaid) zookeeper left the jaguar enclosure door open while cleaning it, thus enabling the animal to escape.  And "enclosure" is also probably a strong word for a filthy, narrow cell.  The Lovech Zoo is, and has been, in a squalid condition for decades.  There isn't even a concept of humane treatment in those responsible for the maintenance of the facility, very few investments, and while the animals aren't generally starved or abused on purpose, their conditions are appalling.  

Neglect and ignorance towards wildlife is, unfortunately, a very common result of the socio-cultural problems most Eastern-European countries have while struggling politically and economically.

It is also safe to assume that the person (or people) who shot Alonso did it just to get a kick out of it.  Typically, there's no clear explanation to the public of what really went down, and how.  The zookeeper will lose his job, the case will be swept under the rug, and it will all remain an unfortunate memory the people of Lovech will tell each other as an urban legend.  How sad, but what can you do...?!

 Bulgarian resignation to people's professional incompetence and their lack of accountability are another set of social failures resulting from the perpetual crisis the country has been since 1989.  

What I am most bothered with, however, is this hardening of the heart, this moral decline people are experiencing, that threatens their very humanity.  Love and empathy for nature and animals is a sign of enlightenment and civilized existence I just have such a trouble seeing in my homeland....

The last time I visited the Lovech Zoo was in the summer of 2009, and it was when I took these couple of pictures of Alonso the Jaguar.  

I hope you enjoyed your last walk in the wild, buddy!