Zoo Full of…Mummified Dogs?

Just in time for Halloween


Screenshot of the ScieneMag.org article showing of the skeletons uncovered.

Cheyenna Snyder, Staff Reporter

Imagine going to a zoo to see lions, tigers, bears, and many other animals–not knowing you are walking right over hundreds of human and dog carcasses over 1000 years old.  

 At Peru’s largest zoo the Parque de las Leyendas (Park of Legends) you are doing just that. According to ScienceMag.org and The Daily Mail, archaeologists have dug up 138 dog remains and 134 human remains on the Zoo property.

 Archaeologists have said that the dogs seem to be sacrificed, as they had been found with a rope tied around their necks (like a leash) and arranged in a fetal position like they were sleeping.

The human remains were found with many head injuries which the archaeologists have suggested shows the remains were warriors.

“All indications are that they were killed in clashes with other social groups,” said Lucenida Carrion Sotelo, head of archaeology at the park. Many of the dead had broken bones that didn’t heal before they were buried, suggesting some kind of battle.

 Before the zoo was an actual zoo it was first a park, and before that was a sacred site for at least three ancient civilizations: the Lima culture (AD 100-650), the Ychma culture (900-1470) and the Incas (1200-1500).

You might ask, why would anyone want to sacrifice a dog? For that answer, a combination of archaeologists and anthropologists say that the dogs that were sacrificed were probably part of the warriors’ funeral rites, to be a companion to their warrior and guide them through the afterlife.

Other sites in Central and South America have had only dog remains; it is unusual to find so many humans and dogs so close together.

The dogs that were found are a short-haired variety with a black spot on its back, that would have weighed between 15 to 45 pounds, said Carrion. They appear in Incan ceramics as well, and seem to be ancestors of the Peruvian Hairless Dog–black, bare-skinned dogs that exist today, which emerged around the year 300.

 As exciting it is to go to a zoo and see alive animals about it’s also just as exciting to some to explore sites of where celebrating the dead was once an important part of life. 

Visitors to the zoo are allowed to visit and see the amazing palaces and canals of the ancient people who once lived there.

Although there are only eight burial sites uncovered (which took researchers 15 years) out of the 46 trapped by tangles of vegetation, those interested in history would likely still find an exciting and educational time to experience.