This Zoo Closed Last Year But Hundreds Of Animals Are Still Behind Bars

When Mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta announced the closure of the Buenos Aires Zoo last year, he described the animals as a “treasure” far too precious to be kept in antiquated enclosures amid the excessive noise and pollution of the city. However, only about 360 of the zoo’s 1500 captive creatures have since been liberated, leaving animal rights activists all over the world to wonder why.

City officials now say that the process of relocating the animals has proven far more complicated than they initially expected. Legislation had to be enacted to set standards and authorize the transfers. Compounding the issue is the fact that experts fear the animals have become so “zoo trained” that moving them may cause excessive stress or even death.

A conservationist manager was recently hired to study which animals can tolerate the move and make arrangements for them. As of yet, it is not clear how many animals will be deemed fit for relocation – or where they will be sent.

For now, the hundreds of remaining animals live in outdated enclosures, many deem “inhumane”. When it first opened in 1875, the Buenos Aires Zoo sat on 45 serene acres on the outskirts of the city. Now the area is a bustling urban zone where street noise infiltrates the animals’ habitats.

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Mayor Rodriguez-Larreta gave a statement about the ongoing dilemma at a press conference held at the site of the former zoo on Tuesday May 23.

“We knew that this was going to take time. Speeding up the process will just put them at risk, so we’re going to take all the time that’s necessary,” he said.

The area is slowly being converted into a park, and Rodriguez-Laretta revealed further plans to expand the green space. He added that despite their best efforts, some of the animals may have to remain in their enclosures indefinitely because of the high risk of transferring them.

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Although daily visitors have been cut back from 10,000 to 2,000 and some animal habitats are now off limits, critics feel not enough emphasis has been placed on their welfare. A coalition of a dozen conservationist and veterinarian groups reviewed a draft of the city master plan and issued a letter addressing their concerns on April 28.

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It said the only real changes since the zoo closed “are the changing of the name, a rise in the cost of the tickets and the closing of some areas and more staff, without this improving the conditions of the animals.”

“The (city government) hasn’t made the enclosures bigger. There are minor infrastructural changes but there is a total deterioration,” said Juan Carlos Sassaroli, a veterinarian who formerly worked at the zoo. “The enclosures haven’t been modified, and obviously, the animals suffer.”

H/T to CBS News

Featured Image via Animal Ethics