Many people are still reeling after the Copenhagen Zoo euthanized Marius the giraffe. Now the same zoo is in the public eye again for killing four more animals – this time a group of lions. On Monday, the zoo decided to put down two elderly adult lions and two cubs in order to make room for a new male lion. According to the zoo, the move was necessary because they were unable to find a new home for the lions and the incoming lion would have killed the cubs.
In a few days the new lion will be introduced to the zoo’s existing female lions, both of whom have reached breeding age. The zoo hopes the brood will result in a new pride of lions. The two cubs, who were just 10 months old, would have been seen as a threat to the incoming lion and that lion would have reportedly killed them as soon as he could. The other two older lions – a male and a female – were put down at the same time because, according to the zoo, they were too old.
The move comes as a surprise after the public outrage directed at the zoo following Marius’ death. After the giraffe was euthanized, dissected in public and fed to the lions, the zoo’s scientific director Bengt Holst received death threats. “Marius hasn’t made us the least bit afraid, because what we are doing is the most correct thing to do,” zoo chief Steffen Stræde told the Ritzau news bureau.
The Copenhagen Zoo kills 20 to 30 animals a year in order to maintain their populations and other European zoos often follow the same practice. This time, however, the zoo wisely decided not to dissect the animals in public.