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Danish zoo that killed Marius the giraffe, executes a family of lions

Lion cub with mother
Lion cub with mother
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons: courtesy of David Dennis

The Copenhagen Zoo, in Denmark, that prompted international outrage for shooting and killing a healthy giraffe and dissecting it in public, has added a family of lions, to their list of dead 'surplus' animals.

The Danish zoo said it "had to euthanise" two cubs and their parents after it failed to re-home them. They claim to have asked other parks to take the ten-month-old cubs, but had not received any offers.

The zoo’s chief executive, Steffen Straede, said it was necessary to kill the family of lions to make way for a new male, which should be arriving at the zoo in a few days. He said that “because of the pride of lions' natural structure and behaviour, the zoo has had to euthanize the two old lions and two young lions who were not old enough to fend for themselves.” The ten-month-old lions would have been killed by the new male lion "as soon as he got the chance,” he said. “The 16-year-old male and 14-year-old female were nearing the end of their natural lives in captivity,” he added.

Within a few days the new male will be introduced to the zoo's two female lions, who have reached breeding age. "The zoo is recognized worldwide for our work with lions, and I am proud that one of the zoo's own brood now forms the centre of a new pride of lions," boasts Straede.

Last month, the zoo killed a healthy giraffe because it was deemed surplus, and did not fit in with the park's breeding programme. After a wave of online protests, the decision by zoo officials to execute Marius, the eighteen-month-old giraffe, shocked thousands of animal lovers around the world. The zoo said it was complying with the regulations of the European Association of Zoos, that stipulates that the interbreeding of giraffes is to be avoided. According to the zoo, they did not have any choice, as they had to prevent Marius from attaining adulthood and getting the urge to breed

Marius was shot down in cold blood with a bolt gun in full public view. Afterwards, children were allowed to watch his lifeless body being chopped to pieces, and fed to the lions. Zoo spokesman, Tobias Stenbaek Bro, said that he and the zoo's scientific director, Bengt Holst, received death threats over the decision to kill the baby giraffe, that had captured hearts worldwide.

Despite the outcry over the death of Marius, the zoo said it did not believe it was necessary to change its procedures."Marius hasn't made us the least bit afraid, because what we are doing is the most correct thing to do," Straede said. The family of lions will not be cut up into pieces in public view, because "not all our animals are dissected in front of an audience,” he added.

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