by Claire Bernish | ANTIMEDIA
“This situation of captivity is degrading for the animals, it’s not the way to take care of them,” asserted Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta during a ceremony announcing the closure of the city’s 140-year-old zoo.
Rodríguez explained nature reserves throughout Argentina would make far more suitable habitats for the zoo’s nearly 2,500 animals, the Guardian reported, and the 44-acre zoo, itself, will also undergo a transformation to an ecopark — a “place where children can learn to take care of and relate with the different species.”
“What we have to value is the animals,” Rodríguez continued. “The way they live here is definitely not the way to do that.”
Animals unable to be transferred to larger, natural preserves will remain at the zoo, but will undoubtedly benefit from improvements made during the ecopark metamorphosis. According to the Guardian, city officials also said the ecopark would serve as a haven to rehabilitate animals recovered from illegal trafficking.
Though once a driver of tourism for Buenos Aires, the zoo came under intense criticism for its polar bear exhibit — the region’s blistering summer temperatures were partly responsible for the death of the attraction’s last polar bear, Winner, three years ago.