Visitors look at a giraffe the Joya Grande zoo and eco-park in Santa Cruz de Yojoa, Cortes department, 160 km north of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on October 4, 2018. AFP / ORLANDO SIERRA
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An imposingly tall giraffe, powerful African lions and proud Bengal tigers are among the many highlights of a zoo created by wealthy drug traffickers that is like a Garden of Eden in the green mountains of Honduras.Four months of demonstrations against the re-election last November of President Juan Orlando Hernandez blocked the main access road to the zoo, sharply curtailing the number of visitors.Honduras's Office of Seized Assets (OABI) confiscated the facility from the drug cartel in April 2014, at which point the biologist Diaz who had been in charge of caring for the animals managed to obtain a government concession to operate the place for $7,400 a month.At the same time, the OABI and the public prosecutor's office seized 200 animals on grounds of mistreatment, further eroding the park's allure.Diaz said she cannot imagine ever closing the zoo, despite its steep financial challenges.
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