Costa Rica: some may see it as a vacation spot and a tourist hub. While those assumptions may be right, Costa Rica is also home to 4% (500,000) of all known species of animals. The nation is the first to completely ban hunting for sport. Along those same lines, the country announced in 2013 that it would become the first country in the world to shut down its zoos and free all captive animals.
Unfortunately, a non-profit group, FUNDAZOO, filed a lawsuit citing a clause that would automatically renew its contract to operate the zoos every ten years. Which means the doors to the two zoos, the Simon Bolivar Zoo and the Santa Ana Conservation, would still be operating until 2023.
Nonetheless, Environment Minister, René Castro says the zoos are trying to get rid of the cages and reinforcing the idea of interacting with the animals in a natural way. Castro also says the zoos, “don’t want animals in captivity or enclosed in any way unless it is to rescue or save them.”
The plans to shut down the zoos and turn the Simon Bolivar Zoo Conservation Center into a botanical garden and education center and the Conservation Center of Santa Ana to become a 51-hectare forest reserve-- regardless of the contract to stay open for ten years more--are a step in the right direction on Costa Rica’s part.
Countries that hold zoos that harm animals could learn a thing or two by looking at how Costa Rica respects and intends to treat them.