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.


Sri Lanka parliament to meet in showdown between rival PMs

Updated 14 November 2018
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Sri Lanka parliament to meet in showdown between rival PMs

  • Sri Lanka has been locked in a power struggle since the prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was sacked
  • The power struggle has crippled the work of the administration

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s parliament will meet under tight security Wednesday, after the top court ruled its dissolution illegal and opened the door to a vote on which of two rival prime ministers has the support to rule.
Sri Lanka has been locked in a power struggle since the president sacked prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on October 26 and replaced him with former strongman president Mahinda Rajapaksa.
On Tuesday the Supreme Court overruled President Maithripala Sirisena’s dissolution of parliament, and halted preparations for a snap election, in a major boost for the ousted prime minister.
Wickremesinghe is confident he can command a majority and wants a vote on the floor of the 225-member assembly to determine the legitimacy of the government installed by presidential diktat.
“Speaker Karu Jayasuriya ordered the police to ensure that MPs have free access to parliament,” a spokesman for the Speaker said. “There will be tight security.”
Thousands of armed police have been deployed along the key approach roads to parliament, which is located on a man-made lake island, with several anti-riot units on standby.
Parliament officials fear that supporters of Rajapaksa’s party may try to stop legislators getting to parliament.
However, by early Wednesday there were no large crowds and only small pockets of Wickremesinghe supporters gathered near the parliament complex.
Rajapaksa’s party was divided Tuesday on facing a test in parliament. His legislator son Namal Rajapaksa said they will attend the legislature, but other party seniors said they would not.
Sirisena sacked the legislature after his party admitted that they did not have an absolute majority despite engineering the defections of eight legislators from Wickremesinghe’s party.
Since then, at least two legislators have ditched Rajapaksa and joined Wickremesinghe’s UNP party which insists it has a comfortable majority in the House.
Wickremesinghe, who insists he is still the prime minister, has refused to vacate the official Temple Trees residence which is a symbol of state power in the island.
The power struggle has crippled the work of the administration, according to lawmakers on both sides.