It’s been a big week for animal activists as two major institutions have taken major steps to stop animal captivity.
Buenos Aires Zoo announced it will be closing, and the Georgia Aquarium will no longer acquire whales or dolphins unless they are from rescue situations.
In an announcement on his Facebook page Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta said the animals should “live in their habitat, not in the middle of the buildings.”
“Today this place generates more sorrow than joy,” he wrote.
The zoo’s 1,500 animals will go to sanctuaries, both in Argentina and around the world.
“This situation of captivity is degrading for the animals, it’s not the way to take care of them,” Larreta said, according to the Guardian.
Instead, the zoo will be turned into an eco-park, where children and visitors can learn about different species. It will also include a “rehabilitation and liberation of animals in transit: those injured or recovered from illegally trafficking,” according to The Argentina Independent.
Among the animals who will stay on location is Sandra the orangutan, who was given the right to freedom after allegations of “unjust captivity” at the Buenos Aires Zoo.
READ MORE: Sandra the orangutan wins right to freedom
As for the Georgia Aquarium, officials say the decision to stop accepting dolphins and whales was due to a long battle with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration over bringing beluga whales from Russia to the aquarium.
The Aquarium originally wanted to create a breeding stock for belugas, but that plan was stopped due for legal reasons.
The announcement comes just days after a documentary on the captive belugas was released, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The documentary has the potential to damage the aquarium’s reputation.
It also comes after the death of two beluga whales at the aquarium last year. The deaths, along with the death of a Vancouver aquarium whale at Seaworld, have drawn criticism from activists and renewed the debate on whether or not whales should be bred in captivity.