Costa Rica to Close Zoos, Release Caged Animals
Costa Rica, already an environmental star on the world stage, has taken another big step in its quest to become more animal-friendly.
It was announced last week by the country’s minister for energy and environment that Costa Rica’s two government-owned zoos will be shuttered beginning in March 2014. From the AP:
“Environment Minister Rene Castro announced in recent days that the 97-year-old Simon Bolivar zoo in central San Jose will become a botanical park next year. Another zoo west of the city, the Santa Ana Conservation Center, also would close. Together they hold 400 animals of 60 species, including a lion, crocodiles, monkeys and a tapir.”
“We’re going to get rid of cages and reinforce the concept of a botanical park so the biodiversity can be shown and interacted with in a natural manner,” Castro said in an interview. “We don’t want any more captivity, any more caging of animals, unless it’s because they’re being rescued or saved.”
Of course, not everyone is thrilled with the government’s decision. The foundation that runs the zoos, known as Fundazoo, is asking a court to block the closure; arguing a recent contract renewal through 2024.
“We’re worried about where the ministry is thinking of moving the animals since the Simon Bolivar and the Conservation Center are the only ones that have a veterinarian specialized in forest species and an animal nutritionist,” foundation spokesman Eduardo Bolanos said.
Costa Rica’s decision to close its zoos comes in the wake of a move late last year to officially ban hunting as a sport. Anyone who violates the law will be hit with a $3,000 fine and and/or up to four months in prison.
The law “will allow us to live in peace with other living things that share our planet,” the AFP quoted assembly president Victor Emilio Granadas as saying. “I believe this is a message we give to future generations, that an activity like sport hunting is not a sport but a cruelty.”
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