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Aug 3, 2013 4:07 PM by Associated Press

Costa Rica seeks to close both public zoos

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica - Costa Rican officials say they plan to close both of the country's public zoos next year so that animals can be freed from their cages. But the foundation that runs the animal parks is trying to keep them operating.

Environment Minister Rene Castro says the 97-year-old Simon Bolivar zoo in central San Jose will become a botanical park. Another zoo outside the city also would close. Together they hold 400 animals of 60 species, including a lion, crocodiles and deer.

The Environment Ministry said the animals would be released into the wild or sent to rescue centers.

The foundation that runs the zoos is known as Fundazoo and it is asking a court to block the closure. Foundation spokesman Eduardo Bolanos said Saturday that its contract to run the zoos has been renewed through 2024. He says both zoos are in good condition.

Costa Rica banned circuses with animals in 2002 and has also barred sport hunting.

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