El Salvador zoo in hot water over false hippo death account

In this frame grab from video taken on March 10, 2014, a hippopotamus named Gustavito is fed at the San Salvador Zoo in El Salvador. (AP)
Updated 04 March 2017
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El Salvador zoo in hot water over false hippo death account

SAN SALVADOR: El Salvador’s main zoo is in trouble for claiming a hippo died of a brutal stabbing attack by unidentified people, when an autopsy finally revealed the animal in fact died of possible poor care.
Gustavito, a 15-year-old hippopotamus who had been in the National Zoological Park in eastern San Salvador almost all his life, died Feb. 26 after suffering for days.
The government, giving information from the zoo, said the hippo had been stabbed and beaten by unidentified assailants four days earlier, resulting in internal bleeding.
That account triggered shock and revulsion in the Central American nation and was relayed in international media reports.
But the autopsy revealed no puncture marks in the animal’s 2.5-centimeter (1-inch) thick skin, state prosecutor Mario Salazar revealed on Thursday.
Instead a detailed forensic examination showed Gustavito had apparently died from pulmonary hemorrhaging — acute bleeding from the lung.
The culture minister, Silvia Elena Regalado, said that in itself did not rule out an attack on the hippo, which she said could have died from the resulting stress.
But a workers’ union in her department had said that the hippopotamus had been ill for 17 days before its death, and alleged that authorities had not properly followed up on the matter.
The head of the environmental activists’ group UNES, Mauricio Sermeno, said the initial account of a deadly attack on the big hippo “was something unbelievable.”
The government should “publicly apologize and give the true version of the death,” he said.
He also advised against closing the zoo, as some critics have called for in the wake of the hippo’s demise.
“The zoo is in a precarious position, with insufficient resources,” Sermeno said. “What could be done is to restructure the park and give it more support so it can maintain the species” he said.


Parts of US Midwest deluged in historic deadly floods

Horses that were being boarded in Inglewood, Neb., are moved through floodwaters to higher ground in Fremont Neb., Friday, March 15, 2019. (AP)
Updated 13 min 42 sec ago
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Parts of US Midwest deluged in historic deadly floods

  • Record flooding was reported in 17 locations in the state and 10 American Red Cross shelters were operating for displaced residents

CHICAGO: The US Midwest struggled Monday with historic flooding that claimed at least three lives, displaced residents and damaged hundreds of homes and businesses.
Swollen waters hit much of Nebraska, as well as parts of Iowa, Wisconsin, and South Dakota, after a major storm last week dumped snow and rain, even as melting snow was already raising the levels of area waterways.
Neighboring states could also be affected as floodwaters drain, officials said.
President Donald Trump on Monday described the floods as “devastating” and said the White House would remain in close contact with state officials.
“Our prayers are with the great people of South Dakota,” he said in one tweet.
In another aimed at Iowa residents, he said: “We support you and thank all of the first responders working long hours to help the great people of Iowa!“

The National Weather Service (NWS) described the flooding as “major” and “historic,” forecasting that it would continue across large sections of the middle of the country.
“Flood Warnings and Adviseries are scattered throughout the Plains, Mississippi Valley, and western parts of the Ohio Valley region, with a focus in Nebraska and western Iowa,” the NWS said in an advisory.
“Farther west and north, areal flooding is also possible in the Northwest and Northern Plains as snowmelt continues over frozen ground.”
The early damage assessment total for the state of Nebraska was more than $260 million, according to emergency management officials.
Record flooding was reported in 17 locations in the state and 10 American Red Cross shelters were operating for displaced residents.
At its highest point, the Missouri River was expected to crest at 47.5 feet (14.5 meters), beating its 2011 record by more than one foot.
“Comparisons to 2011 were inevitable,” the NWS office in Iowa tweeted, “but these floods have resulted in many more rescues and widespread damage in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa.”
Failing levees were blamed for flooding in numerous communities — damaging homes and businesses.
The US Army Corps of Engineers, which maintains federal levee systems, said a majority were compromised along an approximately 100-mile portion of the Missouri River in southeast Nebraska.

Hundreds of people were rescued in Nebraska, where 54 cities issued emergency declarations, as did four Native American tribal areas.
Fremont, a city of more than 25,000, was surrounded by floodwaters over the weekend and cut off from aid.
It finally received food and other emergency supplies Sunday after crews managed to clear debris and mud from a road, officials said.
Three dozen Iowa counties were under states of emergency.
Roads were closed throughout Wisconsin and more than 200 people were evacuated, according to officials.
A third of Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska was overcome with floodwater, and was not expected to be dry again until Thursday.
“It’s important to understand that this is going to take weeks and months to recover so this will be a prolonged effort,” one of the base’s leaders, Kevin Humphrey, said in a statement.
Three people were reported killed.
A Nebraska farmer died Thursday, during the height of the storm, trying to rescue a motorist stranded by floodwaters, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
On the same day, 80-year-old Betty Hamernik died after being trapped by floodwaters in her home in rural Columbus, Nebraska, according to the newspaper.
Aleido Rojas Galan, 55, was killed Friday in Iowa when his vehicle was swept away by floodwaters, TV station KETV said.