After 140 years as a popular tourist destination, the Buenos Aires Zoo is putting wild animals back where they belong: in the wild. 2,500 animals will be moved to nature reserves in Argentina, mayor said.
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 and the 44-acre site will be redesigned and reopened later this year as an ecopark. There are a few animals that are deemed unfit to leave, so they will remain on the zoo site, but be kept under more sanctuary-like conditions.
The ecopark will also educate the public on issues of environmental sustainability while teaching kids how to compassionately relate with other species. "We want to be focused on promoting an environmental education park, but do not want the animals to pay the cost of that education with their sustained presence in an area in the middle of the city," wrote the city's Modernization Minister, Andy Freire.
"The most important thing is breaking with the model of captivity and exhibition," animal rights lawyer Gerardo Biglia, a long-time campaigner for the closure of this city's zoo, said in statements to the press. "I think there is a change coming for which we are already prepared because kids nowadays consider it obvious that it's wrong for animals to be caged."
This story could hint that there is a big compassionate future on the way for animals in zoos around the world.