First, we hear about the Copenhagen zoo killing a healthy young giraffe, publicly dissecting it (in a crowd that included kids) and feeding it to lions. Now, less than two months later, the same zoo kills a group of lions.
The four lions were dispatched to make room for a new young male lion – and zoo officials are unapologetic. They argue that their mission is to preserve species not individuals. In the United States, zoo animals are given birth control if necessary to prevent unwanted offspring, but in European zoo circles, birth control is frowned upon as unnatural. Apparently, the culling of giraffes and lions, along with countless other species, is a more natural solution. Consequently, each year, thousands of “extra” zoo animals are euthanized in European countries to prevent inbreeding and make space for more desirable individuals.
Until the killing of Marius, the 18-month old giraffe, few in the public knew about this harsh policy of euthanizing perfectly healthy and often young animals in Europe. But now that it has come to our attention, we must clamor until it stops. Birth control is a perfectly viable option and, I think most people would agree, more humane and ethical.
The Humane Society in the United States, along with countless other community animal welfare groups around the world have worked very hard over the past decades to get the public to responsibly spay and neuter their pets, so that unwanted animals are not brought into the world only to be euthanized later for lack of space and resources. Personally, I feel this same practice should extend to all zoos – if the zoo does not have the resources or space to accommodate the next generation, then do not allow offspring to be born in the first place. Spay and neuter or provide birth control. Plain and simple. To do otherwise is barbaric and unethical.
This week’s cull has put the Copenhagen Zoo on the defensive again – as it should – and thus they released this comment to the media:
“Because of the pride of lions’ natural structure and behavior, the zoo has had to euthanize the two old lions and two young lions who were not old enough to fend for themselves…. Furthermore we couldn’t risk that the male lion mated with the old female as she was too old to be mated with again due to the fact that she would have difficulties with birth and parental care of another litter.”
The zoo added that the culling “may seem harsh, but in nature is necessary to ensure a strong pride of lions with the greatest chance of survival.”
Following the macabre killing of Marius this past February, the Copenhagen Zoo has faced protests and administrators have received numerous death threats. My guess is the protests are not only going to continue, they are going to grow in number. So maybe, it is time for the European Union to reexamine it’s policy about killing perfectly healthy animals in the name of science and species protection.
Please click on this petition and add your name to the growing number of global citizens outraged by the killing of healthy zoo animals in Denmark.