In the photos, the orangutan, named Mei, is shown standing against bars in her enclosure with her back to the camera, fully wet with what is believed to be urine. In other photos, King, the zoo’s only gorilla, is shown with multiple wounds on his stomach, and stuck inside a small concrete enclosure, clutching at metal bars. More photos show birds inside tiny, dirty cages stacked on top of one another, stuck inside a small room with no ventilation.
Melanie Lustig, the former ape caregiver who originally posted the photos online, had worked at the zoo for about seven months before quitting on September 15 — a few days after Hurricane Irma ravaged the state. While the zoo denies the abuse allegations and says the photos show the animals after being secured in buildings for several days during the hurricane, Lustig told The Dodo she witnessed multiple instances where management neglected the animals.