The key question in determining whether José Rubén Nava Noriega is the worst and must untrustworthy zookeeper ever rests on the basic question: How could one be worse? Almost ten years ago, there was a management scandal the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. in involving multiple cases of negligent animal care. This guy makes the zookeeper in that episode seem like Dr. Doolittle by comparison.
Noriega, the director of Chilpancingo Zoo in Guerrero, Mexico, had only been in charge for a few months before an investigation found out that he was, to put it mildly, not doing a very good job. He had authorized animal trades with fake invoices to justify money transfers. He traded rare watusi bulls for building materials and tools that he either sold or hid. Animal births and deaths weren’t recorded, as zoo policies required. Most mysterious of all, his zoo somehow managed to lose 10 reptiles, a jagurundi, a coyote, several birds, and four of the zoo’s ten pygmy goats.
At least the missing pygmy goats mystery was solved: Noriega ate them. Well, not just him: Noriega had the four goats slaughtered, roasted and served to the whole staff at a New Year’s party. (My wife was once attacked by pygmy goats at the London Zoo. I have pictures!)
The goats are apparently not edible. “They were not animals suitable for human consumption,” the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources told reporters. Now, if Noriega had eaten some other zoo animals, that would have been OK. Well…better.