In Spain, Barcelona broke new ground by banning both bullfighting and the use of animals in circuses. Now, the city is leading the way once again by developing a new model for zoos specifically designed to prevent animal suffering. Both the movement against bullfighting and the initiative to reform zoos have benefited from the support of a city government that is particularly attuned to such issues. However, these movements and projects take on their full meaning as part of a wider effort to defend the well-being of wildlife and biodiversity as factors that are indicative of collective civility and ecological commitment. We often imagine animals as being either in the wilderness, far from the city, or imprisoned in zoos, while forgetting that there is also a richly diverse and mostly free-living urban fauna living alongside us.
Noise, pollution and predatory zeal do not contribute to a balance between humans and other species whose place and modus vivendi are to be found within our urban ecosystem. Protecting these species and controlling their invasive brethren are both civic duties and a way of maintaining our bond with nature. In the pages that follow, experts and activists will reveal the richness of this natural treasure of Barcelona which is so near and yet so little-known to us.