A little over a month since the Copenhagen Zoo came under fire for killing a healthy, young giraffe named Marius, the facility is at it yet again. Yesterday, keepers at the zoo euthanized a family of four lions, including two cubs, to make way for new breeding male.
"Because of the pride of lions' natural structure and behavior, the zoo has had to euthanize the two old lions and two young lions who were not old enough to fend for themselves," said the Copenhagen Zoo in a statement, adding that no other zoos were willing to take them.
The decision to put down the lions comes amid troubling revelations about how breeding programs operate in zoos across Europe. European Association of Zoos and Aquaria director Lesley Dickie says that every year between 3,000 and 5,000 healthy animals are euthanized to maintain genetic diversity among populations held in captivity.
The Copenhagen Zoo defends the of killing healthy animals, stating that the "zoo uses killing as a tool in the management of animal populations that must be performed in order to maintain a healthy herd." Critics, however, say the practice is less about doing what's best for the animals under their care, and more about attracting paying crowds.