Our Zoo Closes

This is a good thing
BY: ANNA CONDA

We have a pretty sad zoo in Santiago, a small town less than an hour north of San Jose. It’s sad because it is tended by keepers of animals who don’t understand their needs nor have the resources to feed and keep them healthy and happy.

Many good hearted people have tried to improve the situation out there, appealing to the government to let them go, suggesting giving or even selling them to a better place. But they were always thwarted by the city government, which for whatever reason, saw hosting a zoo a must have for our municipality.

Finally, after a year and a half, and after enlisting other like minded animal lovers, Christine Duts succeeded. The animals were finally sprung loose after enlisting the aid of the federal bureau of ecology, meetings with Profepa delegates, and even complaints to the federal office of Profepa in Mexico City. Christine and her supporters took pictures documenting the conditions the animals were enduring, sending them everywhere they thought they could get a little support.When she received the notice the zoo would be shut down, it became imperative to quickly find homes for 37 chronically mismanaged animals. Most of them are transitioning through the University of La Paz (UABCS) at the zoology department where they are well taken care of. This department has a rehab and release program. A few animals, (some foxes, raccoons, and a bird of prey), have already been released into their natural habitat.

The zoo will eventually become a wildlife rehabilitation and rescue center where injured animals will be taken care of and once they are better, released back into the wild. A part of that center is already being built, in a section next to the zoo. Christine does not know how much money this will take, and from where it will be derived, which is especially concerning as it will take money to transition the facility, and the city was left broke by the administration that just left office. But, as she says, the main thing is the more than 30 animals have been evacuated, they are being held and evaluated in a veterinary clinic, and they will be sent to appropriate homes. The spider monkey, the snakes, the owl, macaw and badger have been shipped to sanctuaries around the country.

 She did say she hit a stone wall with Peta, the International Humane Society, and NaturaAnimalis who all brushed her off, before finally getting the Mexican government to act.