An Entertainment Abuses Article from

Costa Rica Closes State Zoos

From BornFree
May 2024

The Costa Rican government has finally closed all the country’s state zoos, transporting the remaining animals to a wildlife centre for assessment. We also urge the Costa Rican authorities to consider measures they might take to close the remaining private zoos in the country. 

Jaguar - Image from Richard Hurrell

The announcement follows 11 years of litigation in relation to Costa Rica’s Wildlife Conservation Reform Law, No. 9106, 2012 which paved the way for the eventual closure of all state-owned zoos by the Costa Rican government.

The two remaining zoos, Simón Bolívar Zoo and the Santa Ana Conservation Center, both of which are located in the capital San José, have been managed by Fundazoo on behalf of the state. Due to the terms of their management contract, Fundazoo’s tenure was automatically extended in 2013, and attempts to close the two zoos at the time were met with legal appeals resulting in the closure being delayed by 10 years.

Costa Rica has long been admired for its progressive wildlife and habitat protection policies, having banned wild animals in circuses in 2002 and sport hunting and the capture, trade and possession of native wild animals as pets in 2012. The importation of non-native wild animals as pets was then banned in 2017. However, while all state-run zoos in Costa Rica are now closed, the law does not apply to the 18 existing private zoos which are still permitted to legally operate in the country under Article 20 of Costa Rica’s Wildlife Conservation Law, No. 7317, 1992 (as amended).

The wildlife protection law in Costa Rica also defines the difference between a zoo and a sanctuary, something which the UK government has so far failed to do.

Last week, state officials began moving 287 animals, including a jaguar, a sloth, crocodiles and spider monkeys, from the two zoos to a wildlife rescue centre for evaluation to determine the best destination for each individual.

News reports in 2013 indicated that the government department’s intention at the time was to release the captive animals into the wild where possible. However, a recent Facebook post by Costa Rica’s Ministry of Environment and Energy highlighted that some animals had been in captivity for over 30 years, preventing them from expressing their natural behaviours and leading to longstanding stress. Such animals may not make good candidates for release.

Responding to the news, Dr Mark Jones, Head of Policy at Born Free said, “As far back as 2013, Born Free wrote to the authorities in Costa Rica welcoming their ambition to end the keeping of animals in cases, and offering our help. Born Free is therefore delighted to see this real step towards a vision of no more animals in cages. Any assessments on the suitability of animals for release into the wild must be stringent and careful, and the welfare of the individual animals must be paramount. Those who cannot be returned to the wild should be provided with the best possible lifetime care in a suitable sanctuary.”

We also urge the Costa Rican authorities to consider measures they might take to close the remaining private zoos in the country.

Posted on May 24, 2024
Return to Entertainment Abuses Articles
Read more at Legislation/Policy Articles