Charity calls for end to ‘unnessecary’ zoo animal euthanisias

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Readers' news

In the wake of the unnecessary and much-publicised euthanasia of a healthy 18 month-old giraffe named Marius, the Born Free Foundation is calling for an immediate change in European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) policies regarding euthanasia of animals in zoos.

Born Free believes that euthanasia should only be employed to prevent suffering of an individual animal and all other options have been exhausted.

Will Travers OBE, President of the Born Free Foundation said: “Born Free, and the majority of the right-thinking world, is appalled at the killing of Marius the giraffe. The slaughter of healthy animals by zoos must stop.”

The unnecessary slaughter of Marius by a captive bolt gun at Copenhagen Zoo, Denmark, has sent shockwaves across the world, and exposed the grim reality of zoos, says the Born Free Foundation. The Zoo apparently took the decision to kill Marius after determining that he was closely related to the other giraffes in European zoos and therefore of no value to their breeding programme. The killing of Marius occurred at the same time that Longleat Safari Park in Warminster, UK had decided to kill six of their lions - one on welfare grounds as a result of injuries from a fight in their enclosure; and five others due to suspected neurological problems from inbreeding.

Travers added: “Zoos claim that their breeding programmes are contributing to conservation – I say: show me the evidence. If keeping and breeding threatened species are priority for zoos, why then do they keep mostly common species?” Research by the Born Free Foundation has shown that the majority of species kept in zoos are not threatened with extinction in the wild.

Virginia McKenna OBE, Founder of the Born Free Foundation said: “I am appalled by the decision to kill this poor, healthy young giraffe. This is an outrage that highlights the urgent need to look more closely at all zoos and the welfare of animals forced to survive in zoo enclosures. Now is the time for people throughout Europe to demand that no more captive wild animals suffer the same tragic fate.”

The Born Free Foundation is calling for an immediate review and amendment to EAZA euthanasia policies, to ensure healthy animals who can be relocated are not killed, and for increased transparency in zoos across Europe, with accurate recording and publication of the numbers of healthy animals that are destroyed in each licensed zoo in the region.

Furthermore, Born Free is calling for a meeting with the Government Minister responsible for zoos, at which they intend to ask him to implement an urgent review of breeding and euthanasia practices in zoos in the UK.

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Report contributed by the Born Free Foundation.