Venezuela's government denied on Monday that zoo animals were dying of starvation amid a national food shortage, saying they were being lovingly treated "like family."
Minister for Ecosocialism and Water Ernesto Paiva toured Caricuao zoo in Caracas, where a union leader last week said 50 animals including Vietnamese pigs, tapirs, rabbits and birds had starved to death in the last six months.
"The animals are very dear, treated as if they were family, in fact they all have names," said Paiva, adding that they were being seen by nutritionists to ensure they had an adequate diet.
The official said widespread media reports of deplorable conditions for zoo animals in the recession-hit OPEC nation were part of a campaign of "lies" against the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro.
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