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Costa Rica is such a beautiful, forward thinking country, always seemingly one step ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to their sustainability and conservation practices. It comes as no surprise, then, that Costa Rica recently became the first country to implement a plan to shut down all of its zoos and free all its captive animals.

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This tropical nation is one of the most bio-diverse locations on the planet, which could be a result of the respect the people there have for the animals and the land. The decision to close down the zoos and ban all animal captivity goes even further to show how much the Costa Rican government and citizens really care for their country; this goes beyond patriotism.

Something In The Way?

The government had plans to reinvent the two pre-existing zoos in Costa Rica. The Simón Bolívar Zoo Conservation Center will be turned into a botanical garden and educational center and the Conservation Center of Santa Ana was supposed to become a 51-hectare forest reserve. However, the government was just a little bit late on these plans – by the time these announcements were made, Fundazoo, the company that has overseen the zoos in Costa Rica for nineteen years, had filed a court appeal to get its contract renewed for another decade.

Unfortunately, because of these previous contractual obligations, it is looking as though the country will have to keep the doors of its two zoos open until at least the year 2024. But the government has already filed an appeal and is planning to pass new regulations regarding animal captivity in state-owned institutions.

“We are getting rid of the cages and reinforcing the idea of interacting with biodiversity in botanical parks in a natural way,” Environment Minister René Castro said at a press conference in July 2013 when the government made public their decision to shut down the zoos. “We don’t want animals in captivity or enclosed in any way unless it is to rescue or save them.”

How amazing is that?

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Costa Rica continues to set an amazing example to the rest of the planet and shows us how we can live in harmony with all beings without having to exploit or endanger any of them. The biodiversity of Costa Rica continues to thrive, as 4% of the Earth’s species exist in Costa Rica and over 25% of the land there has been set aside for protection to provide a habitat for its approximate 500,000 species.

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