When the mayor of Buenos Aires introduced in 2016 that the Argentinian capital’s 140-year-old zoo was to be shut down and redeveloped as an ecopark, animal welfare campaigners heaved a collective sigh of aid.
However after a string of animal fatalities on the former zoo, there may be rising consternation amongst members of the general public and activists that nothing has modified.
Within the house of some days, an 18-year-old giraffe referred to as Jackie and a uncommon white rhinoceros referred to as Ruth have died this month; activists – and the zoo’s former director Claudio Bertonatti – imagine each fatalities had been brought on by workers negligence.
As soon as one of many metropolis’s hottest vacationer sights, the zoo confronted public scrutiny in its later years on account of its small, antiquated enclosures, its proximity to a loud, congested street and well-documented fatalities – together with that of Winner the polar bear.
On the time of its closure, Buenos Aires mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta acknowledged that the scenario within the zoo was “degrading for the animals”. He introduced that the positioning would step by step be reworked into an ecopark, with a give attention to schooling and conservation, and that almost all of the animals could be transferred to nature reserves. Metropolis officers mentioned the ecopark would additionally present refuge to animals rescued from unlawful trafficking.
However in response to Bertonatti, the ecopark is falling quick on these guarantees “100 and nineteen animals have died between 23 June 2016, when the Buenos Aires authorities took over the administration of the previous zoo, and 23 June 2018. An additional 12 escaped, 15 had been freed and 241 had been transferred throughout this era,” he mentioned.
The ecopark is at the moment closed for renovations till additional discover, and didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.
Bertonatti filed a proper assertion calling for authorities to find out the reason for the fatalities. An post-mortem confirmed that Jackie had colic and a perforated ulcer on the time of dying, whereas Ruth suffered from a number of infections.
“These circumstances had been seemingly the results of poor administration and stress induced by the continued renovation works in enclosures,” says Bertonatti.
Within the assertion, Bertonatti additionally drew consideration to movies taken by nameless informants that confirmed rats and cockroaches within the enclosures.
The previous zoo director hopes that his assertion will encourage Rodriguez Larreta to make sure the zoo conforms to the worldwide welfare requirements described by the World Affiliation of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), as was envisioned within the ecopark’s authentic reform technique.
“For my part, the infections that in the end prompted Ruth’s dying had been prompted by the rats and the unsanitary circumstances contained in the enclosures,” mentioned Malala Fontan, a neighborhood animal rights activist and coordinator of SinZoo, an activist group that campaigns for the abolition of zoos in Argentina. “These animals have additionally been put beneath a variety of stress as a result of ongoing renovations and up to date layoffs of their normal caretakers,” she provides.
Over the wet weekend, campaigners from SinZoo gathered outdoors the ecopark in two protests calling for “no extra deaths nor relocations [of animals] to different zoos”.
“The Buenos Aires Zoo has closed, however the animals nonetheless stay behind bars,” mentioned Fontan. “Nothing has modified there, besides the identify.”