BUENOS AIRES – The Buenos Aires zoo has been invaded by heavy machinery and construction workers, who are taking the first steps to transform the historic location into a modern ecological park without any animals in captivity.
The 1,500 wild animals living in the zoo, which was built in 1875, will soon have a new home after the city government headed by Horacio Rodriguez Larreta decided to close the facility.
“The notion of animals in captivity is from the 19th century, and so the ecopark we’ve conceived will become a place where we’re not going to use animals as an educational tool for our children,” the city’s modernization minister, Andy Freire, told EFE.
While the city looks for a design for the new ecological park – and the city government at yearend will launch a public competition to select the best urban transformation design – the zoo will reopen in the coming weeks, although there will be restrictions for some of the animals living there.
The zoo will no longer sell food for the animals, which was one of the great sources of stress, given that it was causing a malnutrition problem. And it will be open only Wednesday through Sunday and limit the number of visitors per day, authorities said.
Before beginning the zoo’s reconstruction, a team of experts will have to remove the animals, a long and slow process that could take more than a year and includes a study to determine the conditions under which they must be reinserted into their natural habitat.
The animal transfer process began last Thursday with the removal of four long-eared owls, who were released in the ecological preserve in the southern portion of the capital. They are in the first group of 46 birds who will start the process for returning the zoo’s fauna to more natural habitats.
Preparation to move some of the larger animals to new habitats may take up to six months, officials said.