First Marius the Giraffe then 4 Lions, the Copenhagen Zoo was at it again, killing animals. Most people see zoo’s as places set up to save animals and ensure that endangered or rare species have a chance to survive – so the uproar over the deaths of these Lions isn’t shocking in the least. Am I angry? Yes. However, this isn’t the first time that Lions were killed at a place meant to help them (Read here about the death of Six Lions, including 4 cubs, from the Longleat Safari Park in the UK).
Like most people I visited our local zoo as a kid and even as a young adult. There was a time long ago when I believed that zoos served a purpose to educate, bring awareness and to help save species. Thankfully my view changed, and the more I found out about zoos the more I realized that I could not take everything at face value. I can also tell you that nothing will ever compare to viewing wildlife in the wild, free from cages and if you have the privilege of doing so you will never view a zoo in the same way again.
So the idea of “surplus” animals is not new to me, nor is the killing. Surplus is essentially an excess of animals and in this case, The Copenhagen Zoo had extra Lions, 4 to be exact.
Two lions and their two cubs were killed to make way for a new male. “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 10-month-old lions would have been killed by the new male lion as soon as he got the chance” Copenhagen zoo said. The four lions were put down after the zoo failed to find a new home for them and all four were from the same family. The new male will be introduced to the zoo’s two female lions, who have reached breeding age. Of course everyone loves a baby animal and like at any zoo they will draw in new crowds and more money. The cycle will begin again.
Questions? The two adult lions were still breeding so how old could they be? Will these other Lions befall the same fate as the previous group when they become surplus? How is this helping conservation, Lions born in zoos are not wild and can’t be released to the wild, so how exactly do zoos help wild Lions?
Further reading If you want some serious eye-opening information on zoos and surplus animals read this report by Liberation BC. It touches on a lot including how surplus Lions and other big cats end up being killed for medicines, food and trophies.
Finally how do we move forward? We should question what zoos do and if it is worth it, is the killing of these Lions and other animals worth it? I don’t think it is. You can educate others and also make a decision to simply refuse to support this industry any longer.
Do the killings at the Copenhagen Zoo change your view on zoos and captive animals?