Reykjavík Family Park and Zoo will enlarge its seal pool and renovations are expected to begin next year. The total cost of the renovations is not yet known but the city budget allocates ISK 100 million ($777,000/€644,000) toward the project.
Dóra Björt Guðjónsdóttir, a city councillor for the Pirate Party, confirmed the project in conversation with Vísir. She stated that the zoo’s current enclosure for seals is not large enough according to the regulations of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria. It will now be enlarged to ensure sufficient space and the best possible conditions for the marine mammals.
Cannot Release Seals Into the Wild
Some opposing voices from the public have criticised the move, saying it would be better to release the zoo’s seals into the wild. Dóra Björt stated that if the choice were hers, she would not keep the animals in captivity, but current law does not allow release of the animals into the wild. “According to current legislation, seals cannot be released from captivity, so it is important to take good care of the seals that live there,” Dóra Björt stated.
Read More: Seal Pup Born at Reykjavík Zoo Raises Ethical Concerns
The city councillor added that she supports developing the zoo further toward an animal refuge model, where its facilities would be primarily used to house animals in need of rehabilitation or medical care. Earlier this year, for example, the zoo rehabilitated a sick seal pup found in South Iceland. Once recovered, the seal swam back to its home waters along the Greenland coast.
City to Streamline Animal Services
The renovations to the seal facilities is part of an overall review of animal services at the City of Reykjavík. All animal services provided by the city, including those for household pets, will be brought under one roof at the zoo, which will build a new educational centre on its grounds as well. Seals are not the only animals at the zoo that will be getting a bit more room – enlargement of sheep and goat enclosures has already begun.