Colombia’s refuge for abused animals

Americas Now

With Colombia’s 50-year armed conflict and drug war dominating the national conversation, neglected animals don’t even make the list of national concerns. However, many animals have been casualties of these events.

This week’s Game Changer on Americas Now is Ana Julia Torres. Over 20 years ago, Ana created a refuge in Cali, Colombia for animals that have been abused or abandoned. A number of the creatures were brutally mistreated at the hands of drug lords, for whom owning exotic creatures is a sign of power and status.

Around 800 animals live on the eight acre reserve called Villa Lorena. They include lions, tigers, monkeys, a camel and birds like flamingoes and ostriches. Several have been physically injured or mutilated. In addition to rescuing the creatures from drug traffickers, Ana receives animals from circuses, people’s homes and police officers who bring them to the refuge after finding them at crime scenes.

A former school principal, Ana nurses them and brings them back to life.

Funding Villa Lorena has been a challenge. While local grocery stores donate leftover food for the animals at the refuge, and police officers supply roadkill, the cost of maintaining the sanctuary is high. Sometimes Ana finds her fight for survival to rival the animal’s plight as well.

Meet this week’s Game Changer animal rescuer and caretaker Ana Julia Torres.

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