By Kristen Butler
Costa Rica plans to close its two zoos and end the caging of animals by May of next year, eventually rehabilitating and releasing the animals into the wild. “We are getting rid of the cages and reinforcing the idea of interacting with biodiversity in botanical parks in a natural way,” Environment Minister Rene Castro announced at a news conference. “We don’t want animals in captivity or enclosed in any way unless it is to rescue or save them.”
Some environmental and wildlife groups consider it a big win after years of lawsuits against the zoos. Castro said the move was a response to “a change of environmental conscience among Costa Ricans.”
The Environment Ministry has tried unsuccessfully since 2003 to terminate its contract with Fundazoo, the foundation that runs the two facilities, which argues it is under contract through 2024.
The two zoos are home to more than 400 animals, and Fundazoo spokesman Eduardo Bolanos wondered where the animals would go if not the zoo, arguing that most of the animals are rescues, making the zoos "rescue centers."
Castro said the country’s 97-year-old Simon Bolivar Zoo in central San Jose would be transformed into a botanical garden, while another zoo west of the city, the Santa Ana Conservation Center, would become a 51-hectare forest reserve. More....