A court decision has blocked the Costa Rican government from taking back control of two San Jose zoos and ending the custom of caging animals, the Pro-Zoological Gardens Foundation, or Fundazoo, said.

The court ruled in favor of Fundazoo, which argued that the Environment and Energy Ministry told it casually of its decision not to renew its administrative contract for the Simon Bolivar Zoo and the Santa Ana Conservation Center, where some 500 animals of 71 local and exotic species are kept.

The contract, which expires in May, specifies that it will be renewed automatically for 10 years if the parties involved do not decide otherwise with a certain period of advance notice.

"In this procedure (the court) concludes that both parks will continue being operated by the Foundation for 10 more years," Fundazoo said in a communique.

The ministry, which has not yet responded to the court's decision, announced last July that it considered the contract expired, but Fundazoo contended that the time for taking that decision lapsed in August 2012.

The ministry planned to end the custom of caging animals and instead was going to turn the zoos into botanical gardens or urban parks where species could come in a natural way.

Costa Rica, which is known internationally for its environmental conservation policies, is a small country with 4.7 million inhabitants and with 4.5 percent of the biodiversity on the planet. EFE