By RUTH SHARPE
OMEGA PARQUE Jardim Zoológico will be closing this month due to difficulties the park has faced from local authorities.
According to Phillippa Birchenough, founder of Omega Parque, “the park has experienced insurmountable problems with the road authorities and can no longer be a viable business commercially”.
All the animals have already been re-homed and will go to member zoos of the European Associations of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) to continue on breeding programmes. Some will remain in Portugal while others are being sent to further destinations, such as Spain, France and even Israel.
Omega Parque has enjoyed success conserving, researching and breeding rare and endangered species all of which have lived in the naturalistic enclosures on the five hectare site, next to Monchique Bio Parque.
According to Phillippa, the final straw in the decision to close the park was when the car park was taken away from them by road authorities to make way for a picnic area. The fact that the public would have no parking access means that significantly less money could be generated. Without the funds, most of which go towards benefiting the animals and maintaining their welfare, the park has been forced to close.
Omega Parque is not currently prepared to make further comment about the details that led up to the closure, leaving the situation shrouded in mystery.
The Resident attempted to contact Engenheiro Montez from Monchique Câmara, who is in charge of the road network in the region. In his absence, a member of the press office confirmed that the land Omega Parque had been using as a car park had been the property of the câmara for “such a length of time that it was within their rights to use it however they felt best”.
Over the years, the facility has sought to provide education and enlightenment of the public in animal conservation issues. The centre focused on generation of revenue to provide the institution with financial security and development potential.
The park exclusively holds captive bred animal species that have been classified as threatened by The World Conservation Union (IUCN). Some of these animals include parrots, white bellied spider monkeys, Golden Headed Lion Tamarins, Emperor Tamarins and cheetahs.
The last visiting day will be April 24 and all entrance tickets will be discounted due to the fact that some of the animals have already been relocated to other institutions. Prices are now five euros for adults and three euros for children.
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