Abandoned Animals in Colombia

Abandoned Animals in Colombia

A menagerie of exotic animals has found a haven at Villa Lorena, a refuge that rescues the castoff pets of the country's drug lords. (NYT)

Humans are not the only victims of Colombia’s drug lords — their exotic pets also suffer. Drug traffickers house big cats to show their power and intimidate their enemies, so the animals are often drugged or abused to make them aggressive.

Lions, tigers, and hundreds of other exotic animals that have been confiscated by authorities are given a second chance at Villa Lorena, an animal shelter located in a Cali slum. Animal-rights advocate Ana Julia Torres operates the refuge that will take in any animal, regardless of condition or temperament. Many of her wards have serious injuries — blindness, amputations and brain damage — that were inflicted by their previous owners.

This New York Times video introduces Danny the tiger, who was given human flesh to eat, Luis the cougar who had a leg cut off, and geriatric Jupiter the lion, who was saved from the circus. Torres considers the animals her “children” and is seen hugging Jupiter, and mourning the death of a beloved monkey. Without the shelter, which is supported by private donations, authorities say that the over 800 seized or discarded animals would have to be destroyed.

CHANNEL: New York Times

Length: 4:18

Reporter: Simon Romero
Photography by Meridith Kohut
Produced by Toby Muse