A zoo in Switzerland sparked controversy by serving deer and wild boar straight up from its premises at its restaurants. Their menu includes 'Venison in Cognac Sauce' and 'Braised Wild Boar.' How's that for eating local?
The Langenberg Wildlife Park received public criticism for its' practices, but defended itself saying the measures were taken to prevent over-population in the zoo. Zoo spokesperson Martin Kilchenmann added that this allowed visitors to learn about the "natural cycle" and is "very ecological."
According to reports 49 deer and 10 boar were shot and eaten in 2012 to help deal with the 100 animal births per year. Local animal protection agencies have called on the zoo to develop better population control methods.
"For a glorified zoo to put their animals on the menu is deplorable and is an obvious violation of their stewardship, but it's not surprising," Che Green, of the Humane Research Council, told TreeHugger. "The sad truth is that these animals are still treated far better than the billions of chickens who are bred, brutalized, and butchered for food every year throughout the world (and eaten by 95% of people in the U.S.)."
This is not the first time zoos have faced controversy when dealing with over-population on their grounds. A zoo in Copenhagen was strongly criticized for euthanising a healthy giraffe and a family of lions, only to introduce another lion.
Though the Copenhagen Zoo and Langenberg Wildlife Park have drawn media attention, it's not totally uncommon for zoos in Europe to euthanize animals when suitable homes in other zoos cannot be found and populations begin to get out of control. These measures are also taken to prevent inbreeding among animals.
According to Mother Nature Network, zoos in the United States tend to rely on birth controls like pills and vasectomies, but many European zoos don't agree with these methods.
Bengt Holst, director of the Copenhagen Zoo, told the New York Times, "We have already taken away their predatory and anti-predatory behaviors. If we take away their parenting behavior, they have not much left."
Zoos are already controversial because of the conditions in which they keep their animals. So when it comes to population control, what's the most humane way to keep captive animal populations small?
"Nothing sells tickets like baby animals—that's why profit-driven zoos keep breeding animals, even when there's nowhere to put their growing offspring," said Delcianna Winders, Deputy General Counsel of Captive Animal Law Enforcement at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. "Breeding programs serve no true conservation purpose, because the deer and other animals born in zoos are rarely, if ever, returned to their natural habitats—and in the case of the Langenberg Wildlife Park, they may even be fed to the visitors who once admired them. PETA urges everyone who genuinely cares about animals to do their part by choosing not to eat them—and by avoiding zoos altogether."