The Buenos Aires Zoo will close tomorrow to undergo a transformation into an eco-park. Although the project is expected to take at least six months, the park will reopen in two years.

According to an article published on Perfil, the renovation is intended to create “more green spaces” and restore buildings of historical value. Changes will begin on the Avenida del Libertador side and in front of Plaza Italia, where there is a lower concentration of exhibits.

City Government officials say the Zoo will release 350 animals of 50 different species to different natural habitats around Argentina and assure they are in conversation with certain organizations in regard to the future of the animals.

Perfil noted that after the construction is completed, “the space will have 12 hectares, free access and will leave behind the old paradigm of maintaining exotic animals in captivity” and instead “preserve certain species while generating generating” as an eco-park.

There will be five other areas with specific uses; according to the government, those uses are central connection, conservation and eco-regions, research and education, art and culture, as well as recreation and sustainable consumption. But what exactly is an eco-park anyway?

According to the city government’s plan released in May 2017, the principal objective of an eco-park is to “contribute to the conservation of biodiversity, promote environmental education, and spur innovative and sustainable development.” Other examples of eco-parks include those in Mexico, Great Britain, and the Netherlands.

However, the plan has not satisfied many ecologists and others concerned with the well-being of animals still held in captivity since last year.

As we reported in May, a large group of ecologists and veterinarians released a letter criticizing the government’s approach as just a plan to “rename [the Zoo], bring the entrance fees prices up, close off animal habitats to the public, and increase the number of staffers. But none of this means better conditions for the animals.”

As the park undergoes a transformation over the next two years, this dispute will likely continue.