San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
zoo closures

Protesters clash with San José police at Simón Bolívar Zoo's anniversary party

Animal rights activists crashed the Simón Bolívar Zoo’s 97th anniversary party Sunday in San José’s Barrio Amón to protest what they consider unfit conditions for the zoo’s animals. The protest, attended by approximately 30 people, ended in the arrest of three of the demonstrators.

“We marched against the exploitation of all animals,” said Edgar Samper, the protest’s organizer. “Simón Bolivar Zoo is the largest institution of animal exploitation that we have in this country.”

According to a police press release, the arrests occurred three blocks from the zoo’s entrance after a man hurled a rock at a passing car. Two other protesters joined him in disrupting traffic and after zoo security officials intervened, one of them smashed a guard’s radio.

The rock thrower, identified by the last names Mireno Solano, has been charged at the Flagrancy Court, and the two other men, identified by the last names Chavarría Rojas and Valverde Méndez, are now free but charged with misdemeanors.


Police arrest one of three protesters Sunday at demonstration at the Simón Bolívar Zoo in San José. Courtesy of the Public Security Ministry

Samper’s organization, Animal and Earth Resistance Front (FRAT), has opposed the zoo’s existence since its foundation in 2011 and has held two other demonstrations outside the institution’s gates in the past two years.

This demonstration comes less than a week after the Environment Ministry announced that it will close the zoo and convert it into a botanical garden. Though Samper and other environmental groups have applauded the decision, the zoo’s administration has taken the ministry to court, claiming the government has a contractual obligation to keep the zoo open.

“It’s a great decision, but the zoo keeps coming up with all of these excuses,” Samper said. “We are going to continue protesting until these animals are taken to a better location.”

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