Residency in Costa Rica

A.M.
Costa Rica

Third News Page
U.S. Tax
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 35
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New bill would prohibit creating any more zoos in Costa Rica
By Conor Golden
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The legislature now has a new bill calling for a prohibition of all new public or private zoos. 

The reforms to the existing conservation law calls for no new zoos, public or private, to be created along with no new extension of existing zoos in the country. This bill would tell existing zoo operators not to replace any animals or other specimens in its facilities. Importation of wild or other exotic animals for the purpose of a zoo would also be prohibited. The hunting of wild animals for these establishments would be prohibited.

The only extensions allowed existing zoos would be only that which would improve the safety and health conditions of the animals already there, the legislation reads. A zoo would also be eliminated as a subcategory as a wildlife management site, it said.

The proposed penalty for anyone who would try to establish a new zoo or breaks the proposed regulations for an existing zoo would be a minimum fine 10 times that of the base salary. The maximum penalty would be the closing of the zoo and a fine 30 times that of the base salary.

Currently, the bill defines the base salary as 257,650 colons, or

Lion
Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía file photo
Kivú, as seen in better days.
around $460. The minimum fine proposed in this bill would put the penalty between 2,576,500 and 7,729,500 colons. That puts it between $4,600 to $13,802.
 
The last element in this proposed reform is the authorization to give existing zoos five years to close or request authorization from the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía to change the management model and convert the zoo to a wildlife management site.

This bill comes in response to the controversial nature of zoos in Costa Rica and some facilities’ alleged mistreatment of the animals.

Officials from the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía together with the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería transferred Kivú, the lion, to Zoo Ave in La Garita in what appeared to be a made-for-television event back in December.

The lion had previously been living at the Simón Bolivar Parque Zoológico y Jardín Botánico Nacional in north San José.

Zoo officials had wanted to move the lion to its Centro de Conservación Santa Ana and a new enclosure for Kivú. But the lion became a pawn for a power struggle between government officials and the foundation that operates the zoo, Fundación Pro Zoológicos. There also had been public protests by animal rights activists.

That zoo is nearly 100 years old but, like others, has become the target of the animal rights groups who protest the idea of caged animals. The lion was one of two confiscated by a traveling circus 18 years ago.

The fuss over the aged lion is the latest in an effort by the environmental ministry to close down the place.

The new home for the lion is an area with vegetation, logs, a cave, platforms, and a water pit, based on the international standards in place for maintaining wild animals, said officials as they moved the lion. Still the lion is reported near death.

The government owns the land on which the zoo is located, and the environmental ministry has hopes of turning what is now the zoo into a botanical garden. There have been continual court fights.

Like all legislation pieces, this bill needs to undergo a potentially long journey through the legislative system. The bill could take years and could be extensively modified before it becomes a law.


Puzzle of dead fish casts a cloud over entire Gulf of Nicoya
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There has been no breakthrough in the mystery of why perhaps millions of small fish have died in the Gulf of Nicoya.

Several groups of scientists were at work Thursday trying to determine what happened. If the cause is pollution in the deaths of these anchovies, the source may be far from where the dead fish washed up.

Most of the fish are littering the beaches and are in the surf at the northeastern part of the gulf. But that is the direction to which the winds and currents would push them.

Consequently the entire gulf is suspect now until the solution is found.

Curiously, the 7 to 8 kilometers of dead fish do not seem to have attracted birds or other scavengers.

Residents of the area are concerned about the growing stench.

Health officials have issued the obvious warning not to eat, buy or angle for fish from the area.

However, the warning was restricted to just that part of the gulf where the carpet of dead fish appeared. Expats also should refrain from eating shellfish until there is an answer from scientists.

If the cause is pollution, the amount of substance injected into the gulf must have been massive because there are estimates that the dead fish might be as much as 30 tons. The fish must have died throughout the gulf. In addition to poisoning, the scientists are looking at the oxygen content of the water and the possibility that a blossoming of algae may have generated toxins.

The use of the fish as fertilizer also is being delayed until scientists conclude that no harmful chemicals are present.


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