Croatia's Split city to close 'worst zoo in the world'

ZAGREB (REUTERS) - Croatia's second largest city of Split will close its zoo, described by foreign tourists as the 'worst in the world', its deputy mayor said on Thursday.

"We have told the zoo manager to start preparations and draft a programme to relocate all animals," Mr Goran Kovacevic was cited as saying by the national news agency Hina.

Monkeys will be sent to Germany while a solution for a 14-year old tiger is still being considered, he said.

Earlier this week, the wide-selling Jutarnji List published a story about small, dirty cages and poor conditions in the zoo, which have appalled visitors reviewing the zoo on the web site

"This zoo is an utter disgrace. I do not get how it is still open... All in all, a terrible experience," one visitor wrote on the website. Another simply said: "C'est monstreux" (It is monstrous).

The zoo, located on Mount Marjan overlooking Split's picturesque harbour, has long had a bad reputation. Local animal rights activists, united in the Marjan civic group, had tried for years to have it closed.

"Bears live in a small concrete enclosure. Until recently there were five wolves in a cage and they had so little room that they constantly attacked one another," Marjan's leader Srdjan Marinic told the Jutarnji List daily on Thursday.

The zoo site will be transformed into a recreational park with domestic animals, a kids' playground and a botanic garden, deputy mayor Kovacevic said.

The southern Adriatic city attracts thousands of foreign tourists every summer, thanks to its rich Roman-era heritage and proximity to popular islands.

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