NYC Mayoral Candidate Curtis Sliwa Wants to Close Bronx Zoo Over Animal Welfare Concerns

Curtis Sliwa, the GOP mayoral candidate for New York City, stated Wednesday he believes one of America's largest wildlife attractions, the Bronx Zoo, should be shuttered due to concerns over animal welfare.

The zoo is one of the city's largest attractions and is the largest urban zoo in the U.S., containing more than 4,000 different animals.

In an interview with the New York Daily News, Sliwa said he believed zoos should be "phased out," and that if he was elected mayor, he would consider closing the Bronx Zoo as well as a number of other zoological parks throughout New York.

The decision of whether or not to close the zoo permanently would come after discussions with animal welfare experts and wildlife specialists to determine the best outcome for the animals.

"I certainly think in a lot of instances we've gotta be phasing out these zoos — definitely the circuses and the rodeos and all that because of the barbaric behavior, the inhumane behavior towards the animals," Sliwa said. "Eventually we're going to have to start phasing out zoos, or at least some of the animals that are housed in zoos."

Bronx Zoo main gates closed
New York City GOP mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa has stated that he wants to potentially close the Bronx Zoo due to concerns over animal welfare. A self-described animal lover, Sliwa has said that he would considered closing zoos throughout the New York area. Here, the front entrance of the Bronx Zoo can be seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. David Dee Delgado/Getty

Sliwa, a radio personality and self-described animal lover who reportedly owns 17 cats, told the Daily News that he would look at each zoo in New York on an individual basis.

"I do remember going to Prospect Park as a young boy and the Central Park Zoo and marveling at everything, but I have heard how it has caused a lot of problems for animals themselves," Sliwa stated.

"I don't think it serves a lot of these animals well to be housed in zoos," he continued.

Since opening in 1899, the Bronx Zoo has gotten itself mired in a number of controversies.

The zoo was recently sued over its treatment of Happy the elephant, arguing that she had a constitutional right to be free. Zoo officials, though, have stated that Happy is perfectly content with her living conditions.

The zoo has also apologized for its historic displays of racism in the past, including the imprisonment of a Congolese man named Ota Benga in the monkey habitat in the early 1900s.

Despite Sliwa stating he wants to change the culture of animal habitats in New York, it appears from the latest polls that he is not very likely to get the chance.

While Sliwa has become one of the most high-profile mayoral candidates, as a Republican, he is considered a long-shot against Democratic nominee and Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams. Four out of the last six mayors of New York City have been Democrats going back to 1974, including current mayor Bill de Blasio.

Newsweek has contacted the Bronx Zoo for comment.