In the last year, five zoos closed their doors for good, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, an animal rights group.
Zoos in Oregon and Arizona were among the five states that closed, according the organization.
It’s unclear how many zens are affected by the closures.
The closure of a zoos, as opposed to a public aquarium, has the potential to lead to lawsuits and potentially an increased amount of litigation in some cases, according and legal expert.
The organization estimates the total legal costs of the closures at $200 million.
Zoo officials say the zoos they run do not have the funding to support the operations, including the veterinary care for the animals.
They also say the closures were prompted by a decline in visitors.
“I think it’s time to say that the zolting out of zoos and aquariums is a sad, tragic situation,” says Bobbie Tipton, a zoo spokeswoman.
“Zoos have been at the forefront of saving animals, protecting their health and well-being and keeping them alive and safe.
We need to keep zoos open.”
The closure was the first in a handful of states in 2017, according Animal Legal.
California, Florida, New Jersey and New York all announced closures of their zoos.
Some zoos were forced to close due to lawsuits.
The Oregon Zoo is suing the city of Eugene and the state of Oregon over the closures, which began Jan. 16.
The lawsuit says the closures are illegal and unconstitutional because the zoo cannot provide veterinary care to the animals, and because it is “impracticable and unreasonable” to pay for the care.
The city and state have countered that the zoo’s operating costs are low.
The state also claims the closures violate the Animal Welfare Act, which prohibits “an establishment from restricting the operation of a farm animal.”
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said she believes the state has a strong case against the zoo.
“The state’s case has been clear, and it is now in the hands of the federal government,” Rosenblums office said in a statement.
The federal government has been in charge of regulating zoos since 1978, but there have been several court challenges to their current status, according The Washington Post.
In the past, zoos in Arizona, Arizona, California, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota and Texas were forced into court.
“In the meantime, the state’s attorney general and attorney general’s staff are working to ensure that the zoological community can continue to operate in a safe and responsible manner,” Rosenbums office stated.
The animal rights groups are calling on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take action against the states that have closed zoos because they believe the law does not protect the animals from being euthanized.