Costa Rica's 400 captive zoo animals will be released into the wild or sent to rescue centers next year under a plan to close the country's two public zoos.
"We are getting rid of the cages and reinforcing the idea of interacting with biodiversity in botanical parks in a natural way," Treehugger quotes Environment Minister René Castro. "We don't want animals in captivity or enclosed in any way unless it is to rescue or save them."
The country has also banned circuses with animals and sport hunting.
BLOG: Panda Pair Born in U.S. Zoo
Other zoos have shifted away from traditional cages in favor of more natural settings, and some have closed exhibits of large animals. Several zoos in the United States have closed elephant exhibits, for example.
"Just as polar bears don't thrive in a hot climate, Asian elephants shouldn't live in small groups without many acres to roam," Detroit Zoo director Ron Kagan said when the Detroit zoo closed its elephant exhibit. "They clearly shouldn't have to suffer the winters of the North."