City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta announced today that the Buenos Airs zoo, located in Palermo, will be closed and transformed into an “interactive eco-park”.
The zoo, which Rodríguez Larreta said currently holds 1,500 animals, will close to the public “in the coming days” but could re-open during the winter school holidays.
Where possible, animals will be transferred to sanctuaries or reserves, though this process will be carried out on a case by case basis.
“We can’t keep animals in these conditions anymore,” said Rodríguez Larreta. “Animals need to be living in their habitat, not amongst buildings.”
The mayor said the new park would be a recreational space for children and families, and would include a place for the “rehabilitation and liberation of animals in transit: those injured or recovered from illegally trafficking.”
The city government said that on 1st August it will launch an international call for ideas for what to include in the new eco-park, while also giving local residents the chance to participate by offering suggestions.
The future of the zoo, which had a license that was due to expire at end-2017, has been the subject of much debate and speculation in recent months, with at least two proposals being presented in the city legislature.
In October 2015, workers at the zoo staged a protest against what they called the maltreatment of animals and staff by management. They claimed this was causing “preventable [animal] deaths and damaging species”.
The 18-hectare zoo was opened in 1888, and its buildings are considered National Historic Monuments.