2001-Sat Mar 17 00:40:50 EDT 2018
Vetstreet. All rights reserved. Powered by Brightspot.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Editor’s Note: Crystal Miller-Spiegel has an Master of Science degree from the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. She is a policy analyst for the American Vivisection Society and is the author of numerous papers, articles and reports on animal welfare-related issues. The opinions expressed here are her own.
In February, the Copenhagen Zoo killed Marius, a healthy 2-year-old giraffe, publicly dissected him and fed him to lions and other big cats because it deemed he could not be used for breeding or sent elsewhere. That action sparked a flurry of international news stories and opinion pieces and put zoos everywhere on the defensive. Further investigations published in the media showed that the giraffe's demise was not an isolated event at Copenhagen and other European zoos, but this zoo was (for whatever reason) more candid about its management practices. While U.S. zoos often use contraceptives to control animal breeding, officials at the Copenhagen Zoo and other European zoos believe animals should be allowed the freedom to reproduce and that contraception or sterilization would inhibit their natural behaviors, even if that means offspring need to be killed. In 2012, two leopard cubs were killed at the Copenhagen Zoo, and approximately 20 to 30 animals — including hippopotamuses and gazelles — are killed there each year for reasons similar to those surrounding Marius.
As someone who has volunteered in a large, well-known zoo and studied the ethics and conservation policies of zoos for years, the idea that a zoo would kill animals for population control did not surprise me. If the public, or at least those who seek more from visiting a zoo than simply a day out with the family, knew more about zoos and their management practices, perhaps they would not so easily embrace them. The same applies to circuses and aquariums — if you think they are okay, you probably won’t agree with me about zoos.
Have you ever seen a gorilla eating his own feces or regurgitation? A tiger relentlessly pacing her cage? I’ve seen those types of behaviors at reputable zoos, and they are signs that the animals are not well. No matter how well-designed an animal exhibit is, it is extremely difficult to replicate an animal’s niche or habitat and provide enough stimulation for highly social and intelligent animals.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Bartonella is a type bacteria that can be transmitted to cats, dogs and humans from exposure to infected fleas and…
Want to give your pup yummy, low-calorie treats? We’ve got the skinny on which foods are OK to feed him.
Not sure about food puzzles? Our veterinarian reveals why the payoff for your pet is well worth any extra work.
With these simple dental care tips, you can help keep your canine’s adorable smile shiny and healthy for life.
The friendly and inquisitive LaPerm has an easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.