Costa Rica Is Getting Rid Of Its Zoos

The government announced the closing of the country's two public zoos in July, with many of their residents moving to private centers. However, a separate law passed in December means those centers don't have a lot of vacancies.

What's the Latest Development?

Citing concern about captive animals as its motivation, last month the Costa Rican government announced that the country's two public zoos would be closed and its residents -- more than 400 animals -- either rehabilitated and released back into the wild or sent to private animal rescue organizations. The announcement came months after a new law went into effect that prohibited the keeping of wildlife as pets. Consequently, those same rescue organizations have received more animals in the past eight months than they normally get in an entire year.

What's the Big Idea?

All parties involved agree that the health and safety of Costa Rica's wildlife is paramount. The country is home to five percent of the world's species, and ideally visitors should be able to see them in their natural environment. Hopes are that rehabilitation efforts will be successful, but in the meantime, poorly-funded rescue groups are struggling to make more space and enlist more volunteers to help care for the influx of animals. As a way to help, the government has inserted a loophole in the no-wildlife-as-pets law allowing longtime owners to hang on to their animals for now.

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