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The Forgotten Animals Of The Buenos Aires Zoo 


If Buenos Aires Listens Carefully They Can Hear The Symphony Of Noise Emanating From Behind The Imposing Cement Walls Of The City’s Forgotten Wild Animals

But As The World Busily Passes By, It Becomes Evident That No One Is Listening, Carefully, Or Otherwise. ​

It has been a year since the 140-year-old Buenos Aires Zoo closed its doors and animals once treasured seem nothing more than apparitions to city officials eager to move forward.

Designed by urbanist Jordán Czeslaw Wysocki and architect Julio Dormal, the Parque Tres de Febrero urban park had its inauguration in 1875. The Park would lay the foundation for the birth of the Buenos Aires zoo in 1888.

​Founded by Mayor Antonio Crespo the 45-acre Zoo’s goals were to conserve species, produce research, and to educate the public.

The Zoo’s first director Eduardo Ladislao Holmberg decided the Animals would reside in housing designed to reflect their countries of origin. Asian elephants occupied a replica of a Hindu temple, Giraffes were housed in an Islamic-inspired structure, the red panda in a Chinese pagoda, and so on.

At the time of its creation, the area surrounding the zoo was quiet and peaceful. The serenity only broken by the sounds of animals never before heard by most Argentinians of that era.

In the 140 years since its creation, not only the sounds, but the zoo itself had become overwhelmed by the unending growth of Argentina’s Capital city. Over a century of Buenos Aire’s expansion has secreted away from the serenity and seclusion the Zoo once enjoyed.

After a century of use, many of those buildings director Holmberg oversaw the construction of still remains. Structures once colorful and bright are now blackened from weariness. The dark melancholy animal habitations provide testament to the Zoo’s decades of neglect.

In 2016 Mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta decided that animals that were considered Argentina’s “treasure” could no longer remain in such a state of disrepair. Citing the Zoo’s frightful condition but also the noise and pollution of the ever-expanding Buenos Aires announced its closure.

The announcement brought cheers from the conservationist who fought for its closing since the early 1980s. In the past half-century, the world’s morality was awakened and with it, the rights of animals. 

Many of the animal housings were designed with aesthetics in mind rather than the animal’s needs. The Zoo’s residents were residing in antiquated conditions. Their meager size made living in them inhumane to animals that once walked upon an unending expanse.

​In July of 2016 developers, put forth a plan that called for most of the zoo’s 1,500 animal residents being transferred to animal sanctuaries or nature reserves. The 45-acre zoo site would be converted into an ecological park that would promote conservation.

Due to their health or age, some animals were condemned to living their remaining years at the zoo. Despite the knowledge of them living in inhumane conditions. It was determined that any journey would result in serious injury or even death. 

Locked Away Inside the Closed Buenos Aires Zoo The Silent Suffering Of These Forgotten Animals is Deafening.

Almost a year has passed since the unveiling of the plan and to date very little has been accomplished. 

360 animals rescued from trafficking have been sent to other institutions. Some condors have been freed. But not a single animal owned by the city has been transferred.

Local reporters claim “The only changes made since the zoo closed were the changing of the name. The city also raised the cost of the tickets.” A person who is close to the situation but wanted to remain anonymous told Wildlife Planet.

“The only things the Zoo did was closed some areas down and fired some staff. Nothing has been done for the animals. They still live in filth and deplorable conditions”

Aware of this lack of progress, city officials this week announced a new plan. But this ‘new’ plan showed the same lack of specificity that was inherent in the original plan.

“It’s gone from bad to worse,” said Claudio Bertonatti, a former Buenos Aires zoo director and consultant for the Fundacion Azara non-governmental organization. “Everything is set for Noah’s Ark to be shipwrecked.”

Clueless on what to do before it was released to the public, a coalition of a dozen conservationists and veterinarian groups reviewed a draft of the city master plan.

The group issued an April 28 letter calling on officials to specify which animals will be permanently housed at the park, and in what conditions.

City officials responded saying the process has proved more difficult than they thought at first. 

The lack of progress has become all too self-evident with the city only recently hiring a conservationist manager.

This manager would determine which animals can be moved. He would also need to make arrangements for the animal’s relocation. So far no announcement has been made about which animals would be moved or which would be forced to stay.

Buenos Aire’s politicians seem so self-assured about their future ecological park. But they also seem equally bewildered about what to do with its past.

The price for their lack of foresight and shortsighted planning will be paid by the suffering of innocent animals.

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