The Barranquilla Zoo Foundation in Colombia has been working for more than 15 years to provide foreigners and locals with a sensory and educational experience around nature that guarantees better conditions for the animals and takes this reserve to a more rural space. greater comfort for visitors
According to the director of the Zoo, Farah Ajami, the property where the project will be carried out is in the legalization stage after being donated by a private company.
This property is owned by Bavaria and it donated 30 hectares to us”, “The lot is larger and is called ‘Mayor Altamira’, located on the Vía al Mar in front of the papyrus toll, he said.
“We did this not to design a zoo as we thought it should be, but as the public imagined and understood it: more intuitive. We have realized that people do not understand many things when they tour the facilities; for example, the way in which animals are organized or distributed, which is not intuitive because they are not clear about the differences between one species and another,” added Ajami.
In addition, he explained that they managed to obtain the necessary inputs for the design of the new zoo to be participatory based on market research carried out and the study of opinions and expectations of different audiences.
Through this initiative, it seeks to create a space for education; For this reason, they conducted surveys of children, adults and teachers, in order to obtain information that would allow them to pre-select two ideas.
“These proposals were the ones that were repeated the most in the studies we did: the first was the division of space, taking into account the beauty, strength and intelligence of the animals. The second is more conservative and is inspired by the borders between the urban, rural and wild that are increasingly blurred, since there are many urban animals in the city and people do not understand why, «he said.
The project already has an international firm that will be in charge of building the work and accompanying the process until it is finished, after studying ideas and reviewing budgets.
PJARCHITECTS was the selected company, an American firm specializing in the design of zoos, aquariums and the like, which according to the foundation has created similar projects and great international experience.
Ajami said that they gave a great price, they are certified in nature conservation and work with high quality standards”, in addition, “They have worked with rich, middle class and poor zoos. They have an important sensitivity and that business vision in which they work with ideas that generate income around the parks so that they can be sustained, such as hotels, restaurants, attractions and ecotourism.
As for the investment, this has not yet been defined, since the design is not ready and that will be what the final budget shows.
Through a business plan, the relocation project has contemplated a strategy to be self-sustaining, in order to avoid «depending on the box office.»
The director assured that “We cannot move to see what happens. Now we have a model that allows us to survive, but if we are going to move the expenses would also increase and we need additional sources of financing and higher income.
According to the firm, once the project has begun, it is estimated that its execution will last around three and a half years; however, this will depend on the date on which the works begin and the sources of financing you have, taking into account that being an «expensive» project, it must be delivered in stages.
Transfer of animals
«Before a transfer, it will be possible for many of our animals to enter these transport boxes avoiding restriction processes, the need for anesthesia because we have the tools to make this practice safe, fast and easy,» explained Christian Oracilegui, head of the Department of Biology and Conservation of the Zoo.
This transfer process must be done with «protocols according to the species», explaining that the health of the animals is considered a «priority» for those who run the zoo and the department’s animalists.
He also stressed that this relocation will benefit not only the animals, but also those who visit them and wish to have close experiences with wild and domestic fauna.
It is important to emphasize that despite the space we currently have, they can explore their environments through stimulating activities”, “Animals will have the opportunity to explore larger spaces, which will be positive for their well-being, he said.
For his part, Jairo Holguín, president of the Association of Animalists of the Atlantic, pointed out that this is a city project in which the State must guarantee that the animals are in optimal conditions.
«We see viable the transfer of the Zoo to a site that meets better conditions for the animals because this Zoo has become too small and the sector where it is located is not suitable now, because it is very populated,» he asserted.
With the execution of the project, it is expected that this space for reconnecting with wildlife will not only continue to strengthen as a science center and museum, but will also become a tourist, cultural, educational, research and conservation site.
The case of Tantor, the African elephant
Through social networks a few days ago, a group of citizens expressed their «nonconformity» due to the conditions in which an elephant is found in the Zoo’s facilities.
According to the complaint, the animal was «trapped» in a small space with mud and brush.
Senator-elect Andrea Padilla also joined «this clamor» and maintained that «managements are being made» so that the animal can have «a life with some happiness.»
The Barranquilla Zoo Foundation, in response to this request, recalled that ‘Tantor’ is a male African elephant that was delivered to the entity in 1991 by the National Institute of Renewable Natural Resources and the Environment, after being rescued by the National Directorate of Narcotics in a farm located in Repelón and that was owned by the Ochoa brothers.
He explained «Taking into account that the date and place of his birth are unknown, we estimate that he is around 50 years old, exceeding the life expectancy for an animal of his species.»
He pointed out that since then «innumerable efforts» have been made so that the elephant receives all the specialized care necessary to guarantee its health and well-being, taking into account that it is not a species native to the country and, therefore, cannot be released.
In addition, he explained that in this work they have the support of a team of wildlife experts, made up of zootechnicians, biologists, veterinarians and caregivers. Published by Cartagena Herald, a news and information agency.