Around 50 animals in one of Venezuela’s main zoos are reported to have died of hunger over the last six months because of chronic food shortages.
A union leader for employees in the state parks, Marlene Sifontes, told Reuters news agency some had spent two weeks without food before they died.
She said lions and tigers in the zoo in Caracas were fed mango and pumpkin to make up their meat rations.
Government officials have denied the deaths were due to a lack of food.
In other cities zoos are reported to be in a worse situation, forced to ask for donations of fruit, vegetables and meat from local businesses.
Marlene Sifontes, union leader for employees of the state park agency, Inparques, said: “The story of the animals at Caricuao is a metaphor for Venezuelan suffering.”
Venezuela is in the grip of a severe economic crisis which has led to food shortages and periodic looting.
President Nicolas Maduro blames the country’s problems on what he says is an “economic war” waged by businessmen and government opponents.
His opponents blame the crisis on economic mismanagement by the government and a heavy reliance on oil, which has dropped in price.