Saturday 29 November 2014

Danish Zoo: ‘We killed lions to make room for our new lion’

Zoo defends decision to kill males and cubs

Published 26/03/2014 | 14:46

A lion and her cub enter a lion enclosure for the first time in Copenhagen Zoo in this July 17, 2013 file photograph provided by Scanpix. Copenhagen Zoo euthanised four healthy lions on March 24, 2014 just a few weeks after putting down and publicly dissecting a young giraffe, causing outrage among animal lovers around the world. The zoo said it had killed a 16-year old male lion, a lioness of around the same age and two younger females after a new male lion arrived on Sunday as part of a programme to renew the zoo's breeding stock. Scanpix could not confirm if the lions in the photo were the ones killed.    REUTERS/Mads Nissen/Scanpix   (DENMARK - Tags: ANIMALS SOCIETY) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. DENMARK OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN DENMARK. NO COMMERCIAL SALES
The lion cull is part of a programme to renew the zoo's breeding stock, it says. Photo: Reuters/Mads Nissen/Scanpix
Copenhagen Zoo has euthanised four healthy lions. Photo: Reuters/Mads Nissen/Scanpix
The zoo said it had killed a 16-year old male lion, a lioness of around the same age and two younger females after a new male lion arrived on Sunday. Photo: Reuters/Mads Nissen/Scanpix
Lion cubs enter a lion enclosure for the first time in Copenhagen Zoo in this July 17, 2013 file photograph provided by Scanpix. Copenhagen Zoo euthanised four healthy lions on March 24, 2014 just a few weeks after putting down and publicly dissecting a young giraffe, causing outrage among animal lovers around the world. The zoo said it had killed a 16-year old male lion, a lioness of around the same age and two younger females after a new male lion arrived on Sunday as part of a programme to renew the zoo's breeding stock. Scanpix could not confirm if the lions in the photo were the ones killed. REUTERS/Mads Nissen/Scanpix (DENMARK - Tags: ANIMALS SOCIETY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. DENMARK OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN DENMARK
The cull has caused outrage among animal lovers around the world. Photo: Reuters/Mads Nissen/Scanpix
Copenhagen Zoo sparked controversy when it had a giraffe killed and dissected in front of visitors, including children.

A DANISH zoo has defended its decision to kill two ageing lions and two cubs, citing the risk of inbreeding and the arrival of a new male.

This week's cull has put the Copenhagen Zoo on the defensive again, a month after it infuriated animal rights activists by killing a healthy giraffe, dissecting it in public and feeding it to the lions.

In a statement, the zoo said it had to put down the lions to make room for the new, nearly three-year-old male, saying it would not have been accepted by the pride if the older male - aged 16 - were still around.

"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 said.

The cubs were also put down because they were not old enough to fend for themselves and would have been killed by the new male lion anyway, officials said.

Zoo officials hope the new male and two females born in 2012 will form the nucleus of a new pride.

They said the culling "may seem harsh, but in nature is necessary to ensure a strong pride of lions with the greatest chance of survival".

In February, the zoo faced protests and even death threats after it killed a two-year-old giraffe, citing the need to prevent inbreeding.

This time the zoo was not planning any public dissection. Still, the deaths drew protests on social media, including an online petition with nearly 50,000 signatures calling on the zoo to stop killing healthy animals.

Each year, thousands of animals are put to death humanely in European zoos for a variety of reasons. Zoo managers saying their job is to preserve species, not individual animals.

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