Costa Rican officials have recently announced their plan to close the country’s public zoos (next year) in an effort to protect wildlife. Rene Castro, Environment Minister, says his country is going in a new direction: “No cages.”
From the article:
“One day, we took the parrot out to the patio, and a flock of wild parrots passed, and the parrot went with them,” he told La Nacion. “It made a big impression on me because I thought that we were taking good care of her. We fed her with food and affection. … all these things that we as humans thought she liked. And when she had the chance, she left.”
As part of the government’s plan, the Simon Bolivar Zoo in the capital of San Jose — which currently houses hundreds of animals — will be transformed into a botanical garden. And the Santa Ana Conservation Center west of the city will be turned into a park. The animals housed in the facilities will either be released into the wild or sent to animal sanctuaries, CNN affiliate Teletica reported.”
Environmentalists have long criticized the country’s zoos due to the cramped cages and unsanitary conditions- but zoo officials have denied that and a veterinarian at the Bolivar zoo said, “environmentalists and the government don’t know what they’re talking about.”
In fact, he doesn’t believe the animals should be released back into the wild or sent to a rescue center. CNN reports him saying, “If they close it down, none of the animals here could be released. Most have permanent injuries. Even though they have been treated, these injuries prevent them from flying or seeing well. Some have simply lost their natural instincts. In other words, they will always have to live in captivity.”
There are also legal issues to consider (at the Bolivar zoo). Twenty years ago, the facility was franchised to a foundation called Fundazoo; they argue they can run the zoo until 2024 because the government missed a deadline to cancel the franchise:
“The contract’s clause that speaks about the renewal says that it renews automatically if neither party indicates that it doesn’t want to extend it within the first quarter of the contract year,” Fundazoo Director Yolanda Matamoros told Teletica. “Their deadline expired on August 10 of last year.”

It will be interesting to see how this story plays out in the court. I never thought I would see zoos close in my lifetime but I’m so happy things are moving in that direction all over the world. It’s long overdue.

Source: CNN