Marius, an 18-month-old giraffe killed by a zoo in Denmark, isn’t the only animal who recently died for no reason in captivity. These are just a few examples of the other animals who have also lost their lives:
January 2014: Louisa the lioness and her four cubs
“Longleat Safari Park” by alljengi | CC BY-SA 2.0
Whistleblowers revealed that Longleat Safari and Adventure Park in Wiltshire killed the family of lions with a tranquiliser gun, citing inbreeding as the reason why it was done. Of course, it was the zoo that allowed the lions to breed in the first place.
February 2014: Anton the polar bear
“Eisbär / Polar bear” by Christian Heindel | CC BY-SA 2.0
Anton began vomiting up pieces of fabric after having eaten a jacket or bag dropped into his enclosure by a visitor at Wilhelma Zoo in Stuttgart, Germany. He died of severe intestinal injuries – an unpleasant and painful death. An elephant seal and a hippo had previously died at the zoo in a similar way.
January 2014: Michael the lion
“Cage” by Nicko Witjatmoko | CC BY 2.0
Eighteen-month-old Michael was found hanging from the roof of his cage at Surabaya Zoo in Indonesia. He was just the latest victim of what has been labelled the “worst zoo in the world”, where more than 50 animals died as a result of horrific neglect in just three months.
June 2013: Vicky the orca
“Orca” by MarinoCarlos | CC BY 2.0
At 10 months old, Vicky was just an infant when she died at the Loro Parque amusement park in Tenerife. Vicky’s premature death was hardly surprising, given that, like most SeaWorld orcas, she was grossly inbred (her father was also her uncle) and she had been rejected by her mother, Kohana – behaviour virtually unseen in wild orcas.
June 2013: Unnamed baboon
“Baboon…” by Jon Connell | CC BY 2.0
A male baboon at Knowsley Safari Park in Merseyside was trying to protect his mate when he was forced out of his enclosure by a group of 20 other males and climbed over the perimeter fence to get away. He was then promptly shot by the park’s gamekeeper. The park also made headlines in 2011 for allegedly killing animals and leaving their bodies in the open to rot.
October 2010: Sammi and Becca the Red River hog piglets
“Red River Hogs” by Nigel Swales | CC BY-SA 2.0
Edinburgh Zoo celebrated the birth of these piglets in a publicity stunt to bring in more visitors before deciding to kill the healthy animals just a year later.
These cases are just the tip of the iceberg. We never even hear about many of the nameless animals routinely killed by zoos, especially when the animals are members of species that are less “high-profile”, such as antelope and wild boars, because the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, unsurprisingly, does not make these figures public – although it has suggested that it is as many as 5,000 healthy animals a year.
Many other animals die prematurely as a result of living in unnatural conditions or become depressed or insane as a result of captivity. All animals in zoos are denied everything that’s natural and important to them, and every aspect of their lives is manipulated and controlled. They are told when they will eat, what they will eat, when they can sleep, whom they can mate with, when they can go outside, etc. And zoos often preclude natural behaviour such as swimming.
Please help animals by staying away from zoos. Endangered species can’t be protected by keeping animals in prisons. Instead, give your money to genuine habitat conservation programmes, which work to keep wild animals where they belong – in the wild.