The Government of Costa Rica has recently announced the closing of all public zoos. The Simon Bolivar Zoo and the Santa Ana Conservation Center will be closed firstly and then converted into a botanical garden and a park. All captured animals should either be released into the wild or continue living in government shelters.

René Castro, Costa Rica’s Minister of Environment, described his motivation for this project. Castro explains that he himself kept a parrot as a pet, feeding him enough and gave him lots of love. But one day other wild parrots came, and for the first time his pet had the chance to leave and joined the others. Since that day, he lives entirely in freedom.

Now all other animals that have been living in zoos, should be released. The country operates a very strict environmental policy. For some time, wild animals are already prohibited in all Circuses. At the End of 2012, Costa Rica further prohibited the hunting of wild animals as a sport, which is highly praised by many other countries and environmentalists.

However, the closure of the zoo is not only associated with benefits and praise. Many environmentalists and animal rights activists are pleased with the project, partly because of the poor living conditions in some zoos. But many Critics claim that many of the currently captured animals could not survive in the free wilderness. Furthermore all animal shelters and animal rescue centers in Costa Rica are totally overloaded. Recently, some were forced to reject animals, because no more capacity was available.

Since the new Animal Welfare Act it is in fact forbidden to keep wild animals as pets. Therefore many people in Costa Rica are forced to bring their pets into animal shelters. Many of these institutions are now trying to expand their capacity and explore volunteers. Randall Arguedas, a veterinarian of the zoo in San Jose, says further that many animals have injuries and some have lost completely their natural instincts – survival in the wild is simply impossible according Arguedas.
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