Costa Rican Environment Ministry officials yesterday announced the closing of its two national zoos, the Simon Bolivar zoo and Santa Ana Conservation Center. But they're not just shuttering; they're going to become wild botanical gardens, with animals allowed to prance in and out as they please. And the officials plan to release as many of the current zoo animals back into the wild as possible. It's the latest in an impressive line of conservationist initiatives pushed by the Environment Ministry.
The two zoos hold about 400 different animals, comprising some 60 species. Most of these are local; Costa Rica has a phenomenally dense variety of animals (it's home to more than half a million different species of flora and fauna). Those include many varieties of frog, three species of anteater, a whopping five species of wild cat, and nearly 900 species of birds. Theoretically, that would make it easier to release animals back into the wild.