Calling captivity “degrading for the animals”, Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta announced during a ceremony last week that the 140-year-old city zoo will officially close.
The 2500 animals that currently reside at his zoo will be put in nature reserves throughout Argentina. The zoo itself will be transformed into an ecopark in order to provide a “place where children can learn to take care of and relate with the different species.”
The new ecopark will house a few of the remaining animals that are unable to be transferred to the larger preserves and will serve as a haven to rehabilitate animals that are recovered from illegal trafficking.
Rodriguez stated that the zoo is “not the way to take care of” the animals, and that “we have to value them.” The zoo has previously come under attack for some of its exhibits, including its polar bear exhibit, which had its last polar bear die partly from the Buenos Aires high heat a few years ago.
The closure of the zoo is one act in a line from the last few years that shows the shift from traditional zoos and animal entertainment into more thoughtful alternatives. The documentary Blackfish helped spark outrage of the captivity and treatment of killer whales, leading to SeaWorld’s promise to end all orca breeding programs. Zoos themselves are continuously under attack, from animal treatment to confining conditions and safety concerns.