After almost a century and a half of keeping animals in cages, one zoo has decided to set them free once and for all.
In a groundbreaking announcement, officials in Argentina’s capital city revealed plans to release nearly 2,500 animals that are currently held captive at the Buenos Aires Zoo – turning the 140-year-old monument into an eco-park that focuses on environmental education and sustainability.
“This situation of captivity is degrading for the animals, it’s not the way to take care of them,” Buenos Aires mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta said at a press conference, adding: “What we have to value is the animals. The way they live here is definitely not the way to do that.”
The monumental change will begin next month and animals that have been held in the 45-acre zoo will now begin to be relocated to wild reserves to live the rest of their lives closer to how nature intended.
There are a few animals that are deemed unfit to leave, so they will remain on the zoo site, but be kept under more sanctuary-like conditions.
Officials say this movement is a shift in the way we regard non-human life.
“We want to be focused on promoting an environmental education park, but do not want the animals to pay the cost of that education with their sustained presence in an area in the middle of the city,” wrote the city’s Modernization Minister, Andy Freire. “In embarking on this path, we also wish to serve as an example for other zoos to follow in making a similar change.”
This story could hint that there is a big compassionate future on the way for animals in zoos around the world.