Ar­gentina has its own Dr Doolit­tle

The Citizen (KZN) - - World - Gen­eral Ro­driguez

– In the “An­i­mal Par­adise” sanc­tu­ary, 75 kilo­me­tres out­side Ar­gen­tine cap­i­tal Buenos Aires, it is clear who’s king: the ducks, lla­mas, pigs, horses and lo­cal capy­bara who wander the pas­tures and farm yards at leisure.

The cen­tre is the labour of love of hus­band and wife cou­ple Gabriela Bez­eric and Ar­mando Scoppa, who have been run­ning the fa­cil­ity for over a quar­ter of a cen­tury, res­cu­ing an­i­mals that would oth­er­wise have been killed for meat.

The cur­rent num­ber of “res­i­dents” is 850.

“I al­ways say that I am go­ing to save all the an­i­mals that are at risk of death,” said Bez­eric at the sanc­tu­ary, adding she hoped one day to be able to ex­pand, in­clud­ing with a vet­eri­nary hos­pi­tal on the site cur­rently be­ing built.

The cou­ple are strong ad­vo­cates of an­i­mal rights in a coun­try where meat con­sump­tion is cen­tral to the cul­ture, and im­por­tant in­dus­try and in­di­ca­tor of the econ­omy.

“The An­i­mal Par­adise is the prod­uct of the work of two vi­sion­ar­ies who a long time ago be­lieved in giv­ing a sec­ond chance to an­i­mals, mostly those des­tined for con­sump­tion,” said vol­un­teer Yamila Buboff who works in the sanc­tu­ary.

“This is so they can be treated as the sen­tient be­ings they are and not just as a plate of food.”

Life is not al­ways easy, es­pe­cially with a wider eco­nomic cri­sis hit­ting the South Amer­i­can nation, which has held up some of the cou­ple’s plans for ex­pan­sion. They are now look­ing for spon­sors and fi­nan­cial back­ers to help stay afloat.

“The im­por­tant thing is that our ‘par­adise’ can keep go­ing,” said Bez­eric. “Ev­ery­thing I do is for the an­i­mals and I want to con­tinue so that this re­mains for them.”

As he fed “Wolf”, one of the sanc­tu­ary’s horses that was re­cently saved, Scoppa said the fa­cil­ity was held in the name of a foun­da­tion and he some­times wor­ried about who would take the place over in the fu­ture now that the cou­ple are in their 70s.

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