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HomeTopicsEnvironment and WildlifeAlmost 300 animals transferred to refuge after closure of zoos in Costa...

Almost 300 animals transferred to refuge after closure of zoos in Costa Rica

Police, veterinarians, and officials from the Ministry of Environment transferred nearly 300 animals to a refuge in Costa Rica this Saturday, following the closure of the last two state-run zoos after an 11-year delay since the approval of a wildlife protection law.

A jaguar, crocodiles, spider monkeys, a sloth, among other species, were taken one by one by officials from the old Simón Bolívar Zoo, in the center of San José, and placed in portable cages, loaded onto trucks, and escorted by the Police to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, known as Zoo Ave, located on the outskirts of the capital.

“We have become a country without state zoos and with a vision towards sanctuaries and rescue centers only,” said the Minister of Environment, Franz Tattenbach, during the transfer operation at the Simón Bolívar site. However, there are at least 18 private zoos in the country, which are not affected by the law.

Official José Pablo Vázquez, from the conservation area of the Ministry of Environment, explained that the health status of the zoo animals is unknown and that biologists and veterinarians preliminarily examine each specimen before caging them and loading them onto trucks.

The premises of the Simón Bolívar zoo and the state-owned Santa Ana Conservation Center, adjacent to San José and also closed, belong to the State, but their management was in charge of the FundaZoo Foundation.

Both animal enclosures should have been closed in 2014, after the approval of the law in 2013, but various legal actions by FundaZoo to defend the concession delayed the closure for a decade, which finally occurred this Friday when the contract expired, and the government refused to renew it.

“State zoos in Costa Rica make no sense. Each 10-year contract cost 1,000 million colones (almost two million dollars) to Costa Ricans,” said Juan Carlos Peralta, director of the NGO Association for Animal Welfare and Protection.

Peralta agreed with the authorities that the site of the former Simón Bolívar Zoo should be transformed into a green lung in the heart of the capital in the style of a botanical garden.

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