The Cyprus Animal Party has strongly opposed the proposal from the Cyprus Centre for Environmental Research and Education (Cycere) to transform the Limassol Zoo into a ‘Limassol Animal Farm Park.’

The party deems the proposal unacceptable, criticising both the process and the content of the plan.

As outlined in the new proposal, animals would be housed in “a friendly manner” focusing on the conservation of the species instead of exhibiting them in cages, while the public “will be able to participate in some activities with the animals”.

In its announcement, the Animal Party said it had submitted written suggestions during the initial public consultation phase and raised concerns about the lack of clear and transparent procedures when the Limassol Municipality entrusted Cycere to conduct the consultation. They pointed out that the results, including the questionnaire and the citizens’ responses, were never published or shared publicly. The party argues that the current proposal likely does not reflect the majority opinion of Limassol’s citizens.

“The Cyprus Animal Party in no way agrees with this proposal and the conversion of the zoo into a ‘Limassol Animal Farm Park.’ The ‘need for a more animal-friendly approach’ does not imply that we should have farm animals or wildlife for public viewing, nor should we confine animals under the guise of a more animal-friendly approach when they have done nothing wrong,” stated the party.

They stressed that any decision to transform the zoo into a park, farm park, or any other form is likely to fail, urging stakeholders to consider the history of scandals and mismanagement that led to calls for the zoo’s closure.

Attacking the ‘educational approach’ of the new proposal, the animal party said “we live in the 21st century, with technology advancing rapidly. The educational system can easily teach children about the country’s wildlife and organise educational trips in nature where they can see the animals in their natural environment.

The Animal Party called on the involved parties to publish the results of the public consultation and believes the new proposal should be immediately subjected to another round of public consultation, allowing the citizens of Limassol to decide the zoo’s future.

The proposal put forward by the Cyprus centre for environmental research and education (Cycere) highlights the need for a “more animal-friendly approach” than that currently exercised at the zoo, noting the “significant shortcomings and weaknesses” in the zoo’s current operations.

Under the new proposal, the space would “emphasise the breeding and conservation of species without exhibiting animals in cages”.

With this in mind, the space will “function as an educational centre”, with visitors able to learn about “the importance of protecting animals and the environment”. It would also allow the gardens to offer programmes and activities which encourage people to interact with nature and learning through doing.

Some of the activities proposed include feeding animals, walking tours, animal photography, donkey rides, egg collecting, and cow milking.

As outlined, the list of planned animals includes small goats, pigs, cows, horses, chickens and rabbits. However, the proposal also said the park could include an exhibition of native and non-native species, offering information on the ecosystem, animal behaviour, and the threats various species face in their natural environment.

The zoo has come under fire in recent years due to issues with animal safety, with protesters having descended on the zoo at the end of 2022 and the start of 2023 to demand its closure.

Protesters at the time had described conditions in the zoo as “unacceptable slavery” and the “imprisonment of innocent animals”.

The protests began after a deer had died when its antlers were caught in a metal mesh.

Activists said the deer had suffered a “slow and agonising death”, which, they said, was evidence of “unacceptable negligence and irresponsibility” on the part of the people in charge.

It followed an incident involving a Savannah cat which had been “found dead” at the zoo after undergoing bowel surgery.