Agriculture minister orders probe into kangaroo at zoo

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A photo of a red tailed kangaroo believed to be at the Emperor Valley Zoo taken from social media. –

Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Kazim Hosein has ordered an immediate investigation into the condition of a kangaroo at the Emperor Valley Zoo.

It comes after a viral post on social media showing a red tail kangaroo at the zoo moving lethargically and appearing malnourished.

In a statement sent to Newsday, Hosein said: “I am deeply concerned about recent reports regarding the welfare of a male Red Kangaroo housed at Emperor Valley Zoo. Any animal placed under the ward of the state (sic) deserves the best care possible, and any concerns raised must be taken care of quickly.

“Therefore, I have instructed an immediate investigation be launched into the animal’s condition and overall care conditions at the zoo. Rest assured, we are fully committed to ensuring the well-being of all animals under our care, and we will take decisive action to rectify any issues identified.”

A statement from the ministry said a team was sent to the zoo to begin investigations. It also dispatched a veterinary team to assist zoo personnel to assess the kangaroo’s health and well-being.

“Based on their recommendations, appropriate measures will be taken to ensure the animal’s welfare is properly addressed,” it said.

The statement said the kangaroo was sent to the zoo after the closure of another facility in 2022. At the time, it said, the kangaroo was between 15 and 20 years old and is expected to live to 25 in captivity.

Since the animal’s arrival, it said a dedicated team of zoo administrators has diligently worked to provide the necessary care and support. This includes regular health checks, proper nutrition, and enrichment activities tailored to the kangaroo’s needs.

On Sunday a Facebook user posted a video and photos, allegedly taken at the zoo showing the animal’s worrying condition.

“Emperor Valley Zoo this is absolutely ridiculous. A new addition to the zoo and the poor thing is malnourished and moving lethargic. Who wants to go to the zoo and see animals be mistreated?” it said.

The post sparked public outrage, with some heavily condemning the zoo.

Joining in the online outrage was Leiana Wilhite, a former kangaroo volunteer at the now-closed Safari Eco Park in Chaguaramas.

She told Newsday she bonded with one of the kangaroos named Jack and started volunteering at the facility, taking care of him almost exclusively. After the park’s closure, she said she was informed Jack was sent to the zoo.

While the ministry did not say the kangaroo in question came from the Safari Eco Park, or its name, she told Newsday she recognised him by the markings on his snout.

“Even if it wasn’t kangaroo Jack, there’s no need for the kangaroo to be looking like that,” she said over the phone.

She said the animal’s condition has left her upset and heartbroken.

While at the zoo, Newsday took a look at the other animals. Although there were several empty exhibits, animals including a kangaroo on display did not appear to be unwell, like the kangaroo on social media.