Before abandoning the zoo in its essential functions - at least, the last 10 years, many people demanding the closure of the institution. It is much easier to close the zoo to transform it into what it should be: a conservation center, research (biology, animal and ecosystem health), environmental education and implementation of conditions to ensure animal welfare. Zoo Buenos Aires "Eduardo Ladislao Holmberg" (his land, buildings and animals) is the heritage of the City of Buenos Aires, and it is accountable to the legislature and citizens for their destination and administration. Having concesionado a public zoo to a private company for nearly 25 years, with the principal criterion for the award in the value of a canon and not on the technical quality of the proposal and in a corresponding investment commitment, it proved to be a mistake. The results are in sight to the crisis which this institution that used to be leader in Latin America was plunged. Recall, for example, which was the second zoo in America, after New York in 1912 and by 1923 produced a publication with a circulation of 140,000 copies: "The Zoological Garden Magazine". This institution pioneered several species reproduce in captivity for the first time in the world, and their investigations are still benchmarks for scientific advance conservation programs in the context of conservation biology.
The real challenge of the City Government is to return it to its place, into a modern space for biodiversity conservation and environmental education of the XXI century. From the cultural, it focuses much of the memory of our city and has generated a sense of belonging as only contact with nature more than 10 generations of locals and Argentines. Many citizens have taken advantage of all its potential when effectively fulfilled its mission. Some argue that this role is anachronistic-in contradiction with the ongoing modernization of zoos in major cities around the world. We are convinced that it is not easy to replace the function of recreation, education, science, conservation and culture: Buenos Aires Zoo has always had a large influx of people, which reached in the 90s and until recently more than 3 million annual visitors. The experience of direct contact with wild animals can not be replaced by any virtual practice and perhaps this is the first-if not, IT ONLY chance they get many urban children to have that experience, complementing the actions of the few natural areas urban protected we have in our country.
The walk, both in its spatial design and in its building structure, is also embedded in the emotional memory of many locals. The equity value of the property led him to be declared "National Historic Monument", severely restricting the building alterations. It is the largest building complex patrimonial whole Argentina and shapes itself much of the history of architecture of our metropolis, being an intact world example (remember that other contemporary zoos this suffered from bombing and destruction during the Second World War).
From its origins zoos they have been research centers that enabled the study of diseases, reproductive biology and in particular the behavior of wild animals, whose habits in the wild are difficult and expensive to observe.
The current strong emphasis on the study of reproductive biology ensures that most of the specimens born in controlled conditions and therefore all these zoos has been self-sustaining. This same technology has enabled zoos around the world to save many species from extinction.
The Argentina wildlife also requires ex situ conservation efforts that complement those made from protected areas through public and private agencies. Threatened species such as the pampas deer, by which "Wildlife" has been working since its foundation in 1977 must have populations ex situ backup start remedy enabling local extinctions Scientifically documented systematically, or as takes the NGO CLT for yaguareté and the anteater in the Province of Corrientes. Argentina, when it ratified in 1994 the Convention on Biological Diversity, has internationally committed to developing and maintaining facilities and work programs for this purpose. The adequacy of the Buenos Aires Zoo in this direction would be a good opportunity for the country to start honoring this commitment. On the other hand, dispensing with the ex situ efforts further compromise the chances of saving from extinction many of our species for which there is no possible alternative projects.
It is essential a state policy that promotes clearly the transformation of current and spaces zoos animals in captivity in Argentina of a coherent and integrated manner. They should become centers of rescue, rehabilitation, conservation and environmental education, prioritizing its actions around the native fauna of the province or region where they are deployed. To avoid procrastination and inconsistency of this process requires the issuance of a new legal rule requiring meet these criteria. From this measure each center such must against unavoidably with a strategic plan with statements that define its new vision, mission and objectives, its message, its infrastructure needs, procedures and plans for education and other cultural aspects, extension the community, conservation (including the establishment of breeding stocks of threatened native species with the aim of reintroducing or repopulate wild areas), animal welfare (including health, nutrition, environmental enrichment, management and business caregivers). International experience suggest that these institutions are administered by autonomous and specialized NGOs, made up of renowned people, but with the political and economic support of the State. While there may be contributions from companies, they should be subordinated to the objectives and plans ruled by the other actors. The management model adopted should take into account the experiences in our country and abroad, avoiding reproduce past failures well documented, and thus replicate the best models globally.
Independent International Zoo Consultant