A Copenhagen zoo has killed four healthy lions by euthanized injection. Two of the lions, a male and a female, were about 16 years old. The other two lions were cubs who were explained to be too young to have fended for themselves without the care of the older lions. The Copenhagen zoo has explained that they euthanized the animals to make room for a younger generation of lions. This act adds to the zoo’s already heated reputation after they killed, dissected and then fed a giraffe to the fore mentioned lions in front of onlookers, including small school-children, at the zoo. The zoo maintains that they had the 18 month old giraffe, who they named Marius, killed for fear of inbreeding and to keep the giraffe population “genetically sound.”
The zoo claims they put the big cats down because they were old and the zoo desired to bring in new and much younger lions. Lions in the wild are known to live about 12 years, with a difference of a few years between the males and the females, whilst in captivity lions have been known to live up to 25 years. In addition, in America alone there is a small handful of rescues available for big cats, whilst zoos around the world have been known to trade and accept animals from other zoos to prevent inbreeding and for the betterment and good treatment of the animals. Which the Danish establishment does not seem to be particularly concerned with.
The Head of Copenhagen Zoo, Steffen Straede, says another reason the animals were condemned was out of fear that the two young lions would inevitably begin to inbreed with their father. This comes as a concern for the ethics seeing as a popular zoo with young and healthy cubs would surely have many options and connections available to them in regards to preserving the species and caring for the over all well-being of the wildlife in question. It is speculative, but likely that another establishment would have taken the young lions in for breeding purposes and perhaps a rescue might take on the older lions to live out their days. However, the Copenhagen Zoo has made no such effort to let the public know whether or not it attempted to save the lives of the exotic animals it was responsible for. In fact, the killing of the giraffe, Marius, was done in accordance with the policy for inbreeding at the zoo.
“You must do what you have to,” explained Bengt Holst, “You have to choose and make sure the animals you keep are the animals with the best genes.” Holst, the scientific director at the zoo, said in reference to the killing of Marius. It is important to note that even in the animal kingdom inbreeding can be a crippling as terrible condition that causes many genetic defects and pain the to the inbred animals. But animal activist Maria Evans argues that since the zoos produced him (him being Marius the giraffe), “It is their responsibility to find him a home no matter how long it takes.” Adding that, “They must not be allowed to take the easy option.” Despite animal rights commentators and social media backfire Marius the giraffe was put to death last month. And that seems to be only the beginning of the onslaught of killings at the Danish zoo in question. After the killing of the giraffe the zoo went on to say that they were not afraid, that what the did was the most correct thing to do in the situation adding that they believed people were “more enlightened” after Marius. It is too late for the handful of animals already slaughtered by the less than nourishing zoo however, hopefully the zoo will see the error of its ways or perhaps a new set of guidelines will be set in place for European establishments housing common and exotic animals so that careless breeding and mishandling of animal rights will not happen again in the Copenhagen zoo or elsewhere.
By Ana Elunds
CNN WashingtonPost Al Jazzera