After Marius the giraffe, Copenhagen Zoo kills whole lion family (including 2 cubs)

Copenhagen Zoo lions
CC BY-SA 2.0 Flickr

Something strange is going on at the Copenhagen Zoo in Denmark. I'm no expert on how to run a zoo, and I'm not trying to attack them, as I'm sure they have the best of intentions, but it seems like there must be a better way to do things than to kill healthy animals just to make room.

Flickr/CC BY 2.0

But let me backtrack a bit: This all started a few weeks ago when the zoo announced that it would kill a giraffe named Marius because it was a "surplus to requirements" and they couldn't find another zoo to take it because of European laws on inbreeding. This decision was quite controversial, with protests and petitions against it, the whole nine yards. Despite this, the zoo ended up killing Marius and dissected it in public before feeding part of the carcass to lions.

You can see some photos here (warning: graphic). There are also some much more gory photos of the autopsy on Flickr, but I'm not posting them, as I don't see the point... You can imagine the scene based on this:

Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

But Marius was just the beginning. Now, the zoo has announced that it has euthanized a family of 4 lions, including 2 young cubs, to make room for a new male lion that is coming to the zoo:

"Because of the pride of lions' natural structure and behaviour, the zoo has had to euthanize the two old lions and two young lions who were not old enough to fend for themselves," the zoo said in a statement. The male cub "would have been killed by the new male lion as soon as he got the chance."

Meanwhile, lions are rapidly disappearing from the wild...

It seems like keeping the lions at least until the cubs were old enough to make it on their own would've been much better. Or since the parents were apparently getting quite old, maybe just waiting until they go of natural causes before doing anything else. Ok, maybe this would've cost extra money, or the lions would've had to be kept separately from the new lion, but doing the right thing isn't always cheap. I feel like zoos should be responsible for the welfare of their animals until the end, and not just until it stops being convenient for them. I know that in nature this happens all the time, but a zoo isn't nature, and animals should at least be safe from their captors.

C.Z./Promo image

The Marius the giraffe incident caused so much controversy that the zoo had to put a text defending its actions on the frontpage of its website, answering questions like “Why does Copenhagen Zoo euthanize a healthy giraffe? “, ”Why are the giraffes not given contraceptives?”, and “Why not transfer the giraffe to a zoo which is not part of the breeding programme or to a zoo that is interested in getting a giraffe?”. You can see their answers here.

Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Here's the zoo chief defending his zoo on Channel 4:

Via BBC, Guardian

See also: Beijing Zoo Puts their Animals on the Menu

Tags: Animals | Animal Welfare