In February, a healthy, 18-month-old giraffe named Marius was killed at the Copenhagen Zoo. His autopsy was performed in front of a crowd of zoo-goers, and his remains were tossed into the lions’ den to be devoured. Why? Because the zoo had a “surplus” of giraffes, and Marius didn’t have a place in the zoo’s breeding program.
Now, Copenhagen Zoo is at it again. Two African lions and their two ten-month-old cubs were killed this week to make way for a new male, in hopes that he will breed with the remaining female lions.
National Geographic refers to this form of slaughter as “zoothanasia,” which it defines as “killing done by zoo workers because an animal is no longer needed for one reason or another and is deemed to be a disposable object rather than a sentient being.”
These horrifying events have sparked public outrage. Several petitions are circling the web, and Twitter users are expressing their disgust with #CopenhagenZoo. Many are calling for a boycott of the zoo, while others, like animal rights campaigner Liz Tyson, believe that support needs to be withdrawn from the zoo industry entirely.
In a news release, Peta commented on the incident:
“Copenhagen Zoo, which pleads that there is nowhere to put these animals, didn’t find them abandoned on the doorstep one morning—the zoo brought them into this world. Like domesticated cats, big cats breed unless they’re sterilized, and that is exactly what the zoo had an ethical obligation to do—to sterilize them, rather than bringing cubs into the world simply to kill them.”
Born Free also released a statement:
“The Zoo seems keen to demonstrate publicly their disregard for the lives of their animals and for public opinion, and in doing so demonstrate so much of what is wrong with the keeping and breeding of wild animals in zoos.”