Could it really be true? Check out this article that says that there is a contract with a South Korean company to explore light rain in Asuncion. Thanks to the British, Paraguay had the first train in South America. And then there is the joke that it is the last train in Paraguay. The photo below is from 2005 and is indeed a working steam locomotive. When I lived in Aregua the train woke me most mornings upon its arrival. Occasionally I would stumble out of my bed and watch it take on water. A blast from the past. Imagine Asuncion with light rail. I bet it wouldn’t be as low cost as the bus.
Paraguayan artist Teresita Gonzalez has made a 5 minute documentary video about Hospital de Clinicas. In existence for 117 years it is the primary charity hospital in Asuncion and always packed with people in need of health services. Teresita’s black and white photographs tell the story. There is an interview near the beginning which if you don’t speak Spanish might seem a bit long but it is worth watching to the end.
This project began in 1992 based on a request from the Municipality of Asunción and the Botanical and Zoological Garden Foundation in Asunción for assistance in the development of a Master Plan for the extant zoo in the Jardin Botánico. The Sunset Zoo appeared to be in an ideal position developmentally and functionally to provide such assistance. Thus, in 1994 a Sister Zoo relationship was established between Sunset Zoo and the Asunción Zoo; with the blessing of both CPK/KPP and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the national accrediting entity for legitimate zoos in the country.
In March of 1994 I spent one month in Paraguay consulting with architects, members of the municipality’s Directorate of the Environment and Foundation & Zoo officials. While this was an official CPK/KPP project, it differed in that funding for that initial visit and a follow-up visit in 1995 was provided by the Foundation and the Municipality. The 1995 visit was made by Mike Quick, then General Curator at Sunset Zoo who developed a Master Plan in concert with the Architects. They also prepared an Operating and Husbandry Manual for use by the zoo administration. Funding of all subsequent yearly visits on zoo operational matters was provided by the Friends of Sunset Zoo, the Sedgwick County Zoo (to which Mike Quick subsequently moved), and the Paraguay Conservation Action Partnership (CAP Paraguay) of the AZA, which is headquartered at Sunset Zoo.
An ancillary Education Project under CAP Paraguay was initiated with zoo educators from Topeka Zoo, Sunset Zoo and Sedgwick County Zoo providing workshops for teachers in public schools and institutes in Paraguay as well as providing new signage for zoo exhibits. This project was supported by t he CPK and funded strongly by KPP through the PoA Education and Culture Grant program as well as by CAP Paraguay and the zoos involved. It is a separate aspect from the focus of this report.
In 1994, the Asunción Zoo was a place which citizens of the city refused to visit owing to smells, poor housing and inadequate husbandry for the animals and generally very poor environmental conditions. Over the intervening 13 years from 1994 to 2007, there were inconsistent improvements: some years the zoo moved ahead significantly, others it moved significantly backwards. Much of the problem lay in the lack of direction by zoo and municipal officials, lack of consistency in zoo administration and perceived directional competencies, lack of funding and especially lack of understanding of the value of the zoo. Incidentally, these facts were recognized to by municipal officials as much as by we observers. That situation began to change in 2003 when the Municipality and CAP Paraguay signed a Memorandum of Understanding on husbandry, organization and exhibit development. A series of disastrous events in the city, however, (Ycua Boleños fire and the death of a child caused by the elephant at the zoo) drew attention away from zoo matters and there was a major reduction in steps to improve the zoo.
In approximately 2006, the city and foundation approached the Fundación Ricardo Boettner and its President Marina Petrovic to assume oversight of zoo development and patron development. Ms. Petrovic was the first individual from Paraguay with whom I and the Zoo project members began working in 1992 and she remained continuously and strongly active and concerned about zoo development. Marina and her foundation took over in 2006 began developing patrons (exhibit sponsors). Ultimately in 2008, through an MOU with the Junta Municipal and the Mayor, the Foundation Ricardo Boettner assumed broad responsibility for oversight and development of the zoo. That fact, coupled with the appointment of a new, young Zoo Veterinarian, Dr. Nelson Scappini. Immediately as the result of these events, there have been continuous, on-going interactions and consultation between us on major aspects of zoo matters. Zoo improvement literally shot forward. Dr Scappini was subsequently appointed Director of the Zoo and then Director of the Jardin Botánico y Zoológico of Asunción.
In the period since the Foundation Boettner assumed responsibilities, the zoo has undergone significant development. Cement sidewalks have been installed, many “cages” have been renovated into habitats (the standard exhibition mode for zoos), Amersfort Zoo in the Netherlands donated €10,000.00 (US$15,000.00) to develop an Educational/Volunteer program resulting in docent programs, zoo maps for distribution, improvements to the zoo entrance, and a small zoo gift shop. A “modern” office/working center has been installed, and management practices related to animal care and housing have been upgraded. Zoo “keepers” who previously just carried out assigned responsibilities are now making suggestions on how to improve the zoo. Proceeds from an admission fee (approximately 30¢) are now going to the Foundation rather than into city coffers. In other words, 13 years of disappointment and exasperation have finally paid off in a remarkable renaissance of zoo activity.
The Zoo director, Dr. Scappini has been invited by Sunset Zoo to visit Manhattan for conferences and visits to Kansas Zoos and I will be spending several weeks in Paraguay, in July (on request) to consult on further improvements and advances in zoo husbandry at the Zoo. Finally, Jim and Edie Jorns (Edie is a long time docent at Sunset Zoo) visited the zoo in July ’09 (see photos) while on a visit to Paraguay in association with a Church project. They were hosted by Ms. Petrovic and came back with very favorable comments regarding the zoo; Marina’s sole regret (and mine) was that they had not seen the zoo in its “original” state. Obviously the zoo is far from meeting the standards set by our accrediting agency but it is a far cry from its origins. I guess it just proves that if you wait long enough, collaborate long enough and find the right individual(s) in place, things can happen. I’ll report on the reality after my visit in July.
Bob Klemm, Chair, Natural Resources Committee
Check out the article below, which was taken from the Paraguayan Supreme Court website.
Congratulations to KPP member Donna Schenck-Hamlin for her good work on this and to CPK member, Alberto Granada in Paraguay who persisted with this project.
(Submitted by John Poertner)
In this photo are the president of the Paraguayan Supreme Court, Dr. Víctor Núñez and from the Comité Paraguay Kansas, Dr. Ricardo Carrizosa signing their respective documents. Third from the left is Luis Caballero, head of protocol for the Supreme Court; a great friend of KPP and husband of Delia Farias, who was the first teacher to participate in the Lawrence teacher exchange in January, 2005.
FORTALECIMIENTO DEL CENTRO DE DOCUMENTACION Y ARCHIVO
Corte firma un acuerdo para completar catalogación de más de 500.000 documentos
Un importante acuerdo firmó la Corte Suprema de Justicia con el Comité Paraguay Kansas con el fin de fortalecer el Centro de Documentación y Archivo para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (CdyA) y culminar la catalogación de la colección de más 500.000 documentos que se encuentran en el mencionado centro. El documento fue rubricado por el presidente de la máxima instancia judicial, doctor Víctor Núñez y el titular del Comité Paraguay Kansas, doctor Ricardo Carrizosa.
En la gráfica el presidente de la Corte Suprema de Justicia, doctor Víctor Núñez y del Comité Paraguay Kansas, doctor Ricardo Carrizosa firmado los respectivos documentos.
Asunción, viernes, 27 de junio de 2008
Con el propósito de fortalecer el Centro de Documentación y Archivo para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, (CDyA), además de concretar un proyecto de apoyo con el fin de completar el proceso de catalogación de la colección de más de 500.000 documentos que el centro alberga, la Corte Suprema de Justicia firmó un convenio con el Comité Paraguay Kansas.
El acto contó con la presencia del presidente del máximo tribunal del país, doctor Víctor Núñez y del titular del Comité, doctor Ricardo Carrizosa, quienes refrendaron el documento en cuestión.
Durante el acto, el Presidente de la Corte Suprema resaltó la importancia del acuerdo, sobre todo por relacionarse al archivo, permitiendo de esta manera hacer conocer al mundo la historia reciente del Paraguay y evitar que vuelva a repetirse. En tanto que, el titular del Comité Paraguay Kansas valoró el interés demostrado por la máxima instancia judicial del país en preservar los documentos, a la par de agradecer la confianza depositada en el comité para la concreción del acuerdo.
En base al acuerdo, el Comité se compromete, bajo la supervisión del CDyA, encargarse del personal y el equipamiento técnico del proyecto, así como obtener y manejar los fondos necesarios para la realización del proceso de catalogación de los archivos.
Asimismo, se acuerda que los materiales técnicos operacionales, tanto originales como copias, que se produzcan como resultado del trabajo gestionado, quedarán incorporados al patrimonio del Centro de Documentación y Archivo.
La Corte Suprema de Justicia, por su parte, facilitará copias de las colecciones específicas que lo consideran de interés para su incorporación a las bibliotecas de las Universidades del Estado de Kansas, poniendo de esta forma a consideración de los docentes y estudiantes que deseen realizar trabajos de investigación. Se prevé, además que en todas las investigaciones y publicaciones en las que se haga referencia a documentos del CDyA se deberá citar la fuente de origen. La firma del convenio se realizó en la Sala de Acuerdos de la Corte Suprema de Justicia.
KPP Board member, Dr. Alice Sagehorn, organized a Fulbright study program to study Spanish language and Paraguayan culture in Asuncion for 4 weeks during the summer of 2007. The entire group stayed at this hotel and had a marvelous time. One of the teachers who participated in the Fulbright program, Betsy Koski, has uploaded photos of the hotel on flickr:
To find out more about the hotel, check out their web page: