RIO DE JANEIRO – The lions, tigers, elephants, bears, reptiles and birds now on display at the Rio de Janeiro zoo are just months away from being liberated to roam Brazil’s first conservation park.
BioParque do Rio, which represents an investment of 80 million reais ($18.6 million), is scheduled to open its doors in July.
The BioParque will occupy the same space as the zoo in Quinta da Boa Vista, a sprawling expanse surrounding the former imperial palace.
Besides providing a haven for wildlife native to Brazil, the park will host animals brought here from other continents to contribute to a gene bank intended to promote the conservation of species.
Among the animals making the journey to Rio will be two pairs of giraffes from South Africa, due to arrive in April aboard a specially modified aircraft.
“We are all connected in this (matter) of biodiversity and we are associated with the government of South Africa, with the University of Pretoria, to tell a little of that history of the giraffe,” BioParque director Fernando Meneses told EFE.
The plan, he said, is to create “a great genetic bank here in Brazil and to be a disseminator for all of South America of the giraffes and also to do all that work of reproduction.”
BioParque will embody the principle of “inverse enclosure,” which prioritizes the well-being of the animals by giving them space and freedom, while visitors view the creatures from behind barriers.
Education and research will be integral to BioParque’s mission, Meneses said.
“It’s a new concept that is based on education, research and conservation and the idea is that we could carry the biodiversity not only of Brazil, but of all Latin America,” he said.
A portion of the park watered by streams and springs will be home to hippopotamuses, zebras, giraffes and antelopes, while more than 220 birds representing 50 different species will occupy a woodland.
Another space will accommodate snakes, caimans and other cold-blooded creatures. The big cats, including lions, tigers and jaguars, will also have the run of a natural environment.
For the elephants, BioParque do Rio is preparing a space of nearly 8,000 square meters (86,000 square feet) complete with a swimming pool viewable though an immense acrylic panel.
The long-term plan calls for substantial additions and renovations to be carried out every three years through at least 2043.