Buenos Aires has announced plans to close down its 140-year-old zoo, arguing that keeping wild animals in captivity and on display is degrading.
Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta said that the zoo’s 2,500 animals will be gradually moved to nature reserves in Argentina which can provide a more suitable environment. The 44-acre zoo in the Palermo neighbourhood will become an ecopark when it is reopened later this year.
“This situation of captivity is degrading for the animals, it’s not the way to take care of them,” said Rodríguez, at a ceremony on Thursday.
The new ecopark will be “a place where children can learn how to take care of and relate with the different species”, the mayor said. “What we have to value is the animals. The way they live here is definitely not the way to do that.”
Some of the zoo’s bird species will be released in the Reserva Ecológica, a riverside ecological reserve covering 864 acres in Buenos Aires. Older animals and those too infirm to be moved will remain at the current site.
The new ecopark will also provide refuge and rehabilitation for animals rescued from illegal trafficking, city officials said.