Zoos in Costa Rica to Remain Open Until 2024, Due to Termination Notification Being 1 Day Late!
In terms of animal rights, Costa Rica has an impressive track record few other countries can boast. In 2002, they closed down all circuses that included animals in the acts, and also placed a countrywide ban on sport hunting. With many countries still falling behind on treating animals with any sort of basic rights, these laws were a refreshing and very welcome change.
Costa Rica didn’t plan to stop there, however. In 2013, Costa Rican officials made the announcement that they planned on closing both of the public zoos in the country by 2014. Perfectly in line with their previous changes, it seemed that animal welfare and rights were finally becoming a priority somewhere. The goal of this move, as stated by the Ministry of Environment, was to free the animals from their cages and release them into the wild or send them to rescue centers.
Environmental Minister Rene Castro stated that the Simon Bolivar zoo in San Jose, operating for 97 years, was to be transformed into a botanical garden and education center once the zoo itself was officially closed down. The second zoo is the Santa Ana Conservation Center, located west of the city, and together with Simon Bolivar currently hold 400 animals. Castro stated: We are getting rid of the cages and reinforcing the idea of interacting with biodiversity in botanical parks in a natural way. We don’t want animals in captivity or enclosed in any way unless it is to rescue or save them.”
However, just as animal rights advocates everywhere were rejoicing about the news, an impediment to the plan was announced soon after.
The foundation that runs the zoos, Fundazoo, argued that its contract to continue running the zoos had been renewed until 2024. Eduardo Bolanos, Fundazoo spokesman, said his foundation had requested an administrative tribunal to block the closure. According to Bolanos, the reason for their request to block the move was based on a concern for animal welfare:
“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.”
In a ruling passed just this past month that struck down both activists and the Ministry of Environment, the decision was made that the zoos must remain open for almost another 10 years due to contractual obligations. The Ministry of Environment was reportedly one day late in delivering the notification of termination to Fundazoo.
While this update is of course a disappointment, activists are continuing to appeal the decision, hoping to speed up the government’s original intention of closing the zoos, freeing the animals, and creating gardens and education centers in their place. For the sake of the animals, let’s hope they are successful.
Photo Credit: Carol Patterson (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/5875601793)