The Copenhagen zoo made famous around the world after slaying and publicly dissecting a giraffe named Marius last February is set to trigger further uproar after it admitted killing four lions on Monday.
The zoo said in a statement: “Due to the natural behaviour of lions, the zoo had to euthanise two older lions and two lion cubs not old enough to make it on their own.”
The two cubs, both 10-months-old, “would have been killed by the new male as soon as he would have had a chance,” the statement said. The lions were killed on Monday because the zoo was not able to find them a new home in another zoo, a spokesperson told the AFP.
Unlike with the death of Marius the giraffe, no public dissection took place because “not all our animals are cut into pieces” in front of visitors, the spokesperson added.
A new male lion was due to be introduced to two female lions, born in 2012 and now capable of breeding. “The zoo is famous worldwide for its work with lions and I am proud that one of them will start a new line of descent,“said zoo director Steffen Sträde.
Last month, top zoo official Bengt Holst received death threats following the zoo’s decision to kill 18-month-old Marius. He was slain with a bolt gun, dissected, then chopped into pieces and part of his carcass fed to lions, all under the gaze of adults and children visiting the zoo.
The announcement of his demise shocked thousands of animal rights activists worldwide, a petition was even started to save the young giraffe. The zoo had indicated on its website that it had no choice but to prevent Marius reaching adulthood, as the European Aquariums and Zoo Associations strictly monitor cases of inbreeding in giraffes.
However, many in Denmark felt the uproar was hypocritical and selective since the slaughtering of farm animals in the country has never triggered such reactions.
Photo credit CC BY Flickr/Angela N