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Costa Rica To Close Its Zoos, Returning Some Animals To The Wild

Costa Rica bird

Costa Rica is becoming a small yet mighty force in the name of conservation and wildlife. In 2002 the government banned circuses with animals, and has also banned sport hunting. Now the government is taking things one step further, announcing that they will be closing both of the country’s public zoos next year to turn them into more animal-friendly botanical gardens and urban parks.

San Jose’s 97-year-old Simon Bolivar Zoo will become a botanical park, according to Environment Minister Rene Castro. The Santa Ana Conservation Center will also be closing and turned into a place where humans and animals can roam freely. The two zoos have 60 animal species between them including mammals, birds, insects, and reptiles – which the government believes will be able to be relocated within the forest or within a wildlife sanctuary.

“We are getting rid of the cages and reinforcing the idea of interacting with biodiversity in botanical parks in a natural way,” said Environment Minister René Castro. “We don’t want animals in captivity or enclosed in any way unless it is to rescue or save them.”

The closures will go into effect when the government’s contracts with Fundazoo, the foundation that runs both parks, expires. Naturally, the foundation is none too pleased with the move.

“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 foreign species and an animal nutritionist,” said spokesman Eduardo Bolanos.

Since animals are, you know, designed to live in the wild, I’m thinking it’s probably not worth a heap of concern. It’s sad yet fascinating that we’ve come to a point where we’ve had animals in captivity for so long, it sounds “weird” to shut down a zoo and allow animals to live their lives the way they were intended to.

Do you think this is a good idea? Do you think other countries will eventually follow suit?

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