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Seoul Zoo to buy back sold animals

Days after a hunger strike by a U.S. civic activist, a public zoo caved in and agreed to buy back the animals that were sold in an auction upon concerns that some of them had been sold to a slaughterhouse.

Seoul Zoo, which is run by Seoul Metropolitan Government, said Monday that it has decided to buy back the animals that the zoo had sold at an auction in August.

A.J. Garcia, the U.S. branch president of civic group Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth, had launched a hunger strike in front of the Seoul mayoral residence from Oct. 9, claiming that 33 auctioned animals including goats and deer were actually sold to a slaughterhouse. He urged the zoo to repurchase the remaining animals.

Seoul Zoo had denied Garcia’s claim, arguing that the first buyer of the animals appeared to have sold the animals to a slaughterhouse without their knowledge. It also stressed that the sale of animals was part of the zoo’s long-term reform to control the number of species while concentrating on raising endangered and wild animals.

The zoo has regularly put excess animals up for auction once or twice a year since 1986 to control the number of animals.

Following the decision, the 30-year-old activist stopped his hunger strike on Saturday.

The repurchase cost will be shared by the zoo and two animal rights group, including CARE. The animals will be sent to other zoos or farms, officials said.

By Lee Hyun-jeong (