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Animals at zoo to be released into wild

By Kim Se-jeong

One of the wild wolves at the Wildlife Conservatory
A zoo at the Korea National Arboretum in Gyeonggi Province will shut down in spring and some animals could be released into the wild.

The Wildlife Conservatory in Pocheon is ending 26 years of operation dedicated to conserving endangered animals native to the Korean Peninsula.

Twenty-five animals are awaiting adoption, but if they are not, they will be released into the wild, an unusual move for a zoo. They include one Asiatic black bear, three wild wolves, three boars, four raccoons, two badgers, two Korean water deer, seven eagles, one eagle-owl and two Korean buzzards.

The Wildlife Conservatory opened in 1991 and focused on rare species indigenous to the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia.

A Siberian tiger couple, donated by China, made the place popular for years.

One tiger died several years ago, and the other was taken in January to a new zoo in Bongwha, North Gyeongsang Province, which will open later this year.

Speaking with the Joongang Ilbo, a Korean-language daily based in Seoul, Lee You-mi, the arboretum's director general, said the tiger's absence was critical to the decision to close the zoo.

The conservatory sent adoption requests to other zoos in the country and is waiting to hear from them.

"All the animals are up for adoption at the moment," a conservatory official said. "Those which are not wanted will be released into the wild. We'll see." That will happen in April. "We believe doing so completely fits the spirit of conservation," the official said.

The National Park Service has taken over the work of the conservatory, caring for rare animal species.

Kim Se-jeong

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