300 animals are sent to shelters

300 animals are sent to shelters
300 animals are sent to shelters

Police, veterinarians and officials from Costa Rica’s Environment Ministry transferred nearly 300 animals to a shelter on Saturday, following the closure of the state’s last two zoos, eleven after the adoption of a law on the protection of fauna and flora.

A jaguar, crocodiles, spider monkeys and a sloth, among other species, were removed, one by one, by officials at the former Simon Bolivar Zoo in central San Jose and placed in portable cages . They were then loaded onto trucks and escorted by police to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, known as Zoo Ave and located on the outskirts of the capital.

“We are becoming a country without public zoos, with a vision oriented towards sanctuaries and rescue centers”, declared the Minister of the Environment, Franz Tattenbach, to journalists present at the Simon Bolivar site during the transfer operation. However, there are at least 18 private zoos in the country, which are not affected by the law.

José Pablo Vázquez, from the Conservation Department of the Ministry of Environment, explained that biologists and veterinarians examined each animal. The Simón Bolívar Zoo and the Centro de Conservación de Santa Ana, also close to San José and also closed, belong to the state, but were managed by the FundaZoo Foundation.

Members of Costa Rica’s Ministry of Environment use a net to remove animals from the water after the closure of the Simon Bolivar State Zoo in San Jose, Costa Rica, May 11, 2024
EZEQUIEL BECERRA / AFP

The two animal enclosures should have been closed in 2014, after the law was approved in 2013, but several legal appeals by FundaZoo to defend the concession delayed the closure for a decade, which finally happened this Friday in the expiration of the contract, which the government refused to renew.

“State-run zoos in Costa Rica make no sense. They cost Costa Ricans a billion colones (nearly two million dollars) per ten-year contract., said Juan Carlos Peralta, director of the NGO Asociación para el Bienestar y Amparo Animal (Association for the Welfare and Protection of Animals). Juan Carlos Peralta agrees with the authorities that the site of the former Simon Bolivar zoo be transformed into a botanical garden-type green space in the heart of the capital.

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