Number of animals killed in zoos

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Giraffes at Copenhagen Zoo
Giraffes at Copenhagen Zoo

Zoos usually decide what to do with “surplus” animals based on “what the market will bear.” Consequently, many thousands of other “surplus” animals per year are sold to circuses, animal merchants, auctions, individual pet owners, “game farms,” “hunting ranches,” and “trophy collectors”.[1] Many zoos have Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs in place that are designed to manage populations and keep them genetically diverse. There is no way to completely control how many surplus animals there may be.[2]

Animals are routinely killed in zoos every year and many are young and healthy.

After Marius, an 18 month old healthy giraffe, was killed in front of a crowd at Copenhagen Zoo in 2014 Simon Tonge, the chairman of The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), stated in a BBC Radio 4 interview:[3][4]

As many as 5,000 creatures are put down annually to manage populations. It is necessary to "euthanise" animals and that zoos can not afford to be "sentimental" about the issue. Many zoos do it, have to do it, choose to do it because it’s a good way of regulating populations.

After a barrage of critical news coverage Copenhagen Zoo's Scientific Director Bengt Holst said:

This is not a thing that should go anywhere outside Denmark. We all know it's done every day. We do it when it's necessary. If I should take an average over 10 years - it could be probably something like 20, 30 [per year].[5]

In the BBC Radio 4 interview EAZA Executive Director Lesley Dickie said that between 3,000 and 5,000 healthy animals are killed at european zoos each year. However, the Captive Animals Protection Society (CAPS) estimate that 10,000 healthy animals are killed at European zoos each year. Liz Tyson, CAPS Director, said:

The fact that zoos are killing healthy animals in their thousands and yet are unable, or perhaps simply unwilling, to put an exact figure on how many lives have been deliberately ended is appalling. Whether it is a deliberate cover-up or, as suggested by the Executive Director of Newquay and Paignton Zoos’ parent company, some animals’ deaths are simply not important enough to monitor, it should ring alarm bells for anyone that believes the zoo industry prioritises the interests of the animals under its care. To learn that, in addition to this, zoos kill animals as a means to avoid the cost of giving them veterinary treatment simply reinforces our concerns”.[6]

See also

External links