Citizens Are Fighting Animal Cruelty in Latin America, One Tweet at a Time
Agence France-Presse
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February 10, 2015



Veterinarian Carmen Soto treats Grecia the toucan. (AFP)

Veterinarian Carmen Soto is gently swabbing what is left of Grecia the toucan's bright beak, preparing to fit it with a prosthesis to replace the part hacked off by cruel hooligans.

The images of the bird's mutilated red-and-yellow beak caused outrage last month in Costa Rica, where donations for a prosthesis came pouring in after its story went viral on social media - a new weapon in the fight against the age-old problem of animal cruelty in Latin America.

Appalled citizens sent in US$3,000 to fit Grecia with a prosthetic beak after a gang of youths attacked the bird, which activists say is a half-tame mascot for the central town of the same name.

A similar case shook Honduras in January, when youngsters blew up a stray dog with fireworks and posted a video online.

And in Peru, social media users were repulsed when a man whose children had been bitten by the neighbor's dog claimed revenge by tying the animal to the back of his car and dragging it through the street.

Such cases usually go unpunished in Latin America, where laws against animal cruelty are mostly weak or non-existent. The network of organizations fighting the phenomenon is also small and underfunded.

But social media is changing that, said Cynthia Dent, executive director for the Humane Society International in Latin America.

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