Παρασκευή, 11 Απριλίου 2014

Zoos or Morgues? What is Going on in Europe?

Yes, another European zoo ""euthanized"" another young and healthy animal!

Tierpark Dählhölzli (Facebook)
  In the wake of the recent killing of four healthy lions and a giraffe at Copenhagen Zoo, a healthy 3 month-old bear cub has been euthanased at another European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) member zoo, this time in Switzerland. It appears the decision was made to kill the cub after the adult male attacked and killed the cub’s sibling. 

On April 2, the Tierpark Dählhölzli (Fb) zoo in Bern came under fire after Misha, an 800-pound male Russian brown bear on display there attacked and killed one of his three-month-old offspring, called "Baby Bear 3". Despite the fact that the bear had exhibited aggression towards the cubs before, the zoo had decided to allow the young animals to remain with both their parents in the enclosure. 

In the wild, female bears usually drive away the male after giving birth in order to protect the cubs, because the male can perceive them as a rival and try to kill them. As Professor Djuro Huber, chairman of the brown bear expert team for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, told MailOnline, "it was a shame to allow the male to kill his cub in the zoo. In nature the male bear separates from the female after mating season and is not present with his cubs. It is not unusual that the male kills his cubs in captivity. Even the mother sometimes does. But zoos have too many captive bears and it is almost impossible to send them somewhere. Surplus bears have to be euthanised". 

The zoo says that the parents of the two cubs, Misha, and his mate Masha - gifts from Russia's former-President Dmitry Medvedev in 2009 - were hand raised and had not learned how to properly care for their own young. And while the move to keep the animals together sparked criticism from animal activists, the zoo announced that it had decided to end the "distress and pain" the other youngster was suffering. Indeed, this past Monday (April 7), the zoo took measures to ensure that the "Baby Bear 4" doesn’t meet that same fate - by "euthanizing" it!

This isn't the first time a healthy captive animal has been destroyed at the hands of the facility which oversaw its birth. Earlier this year, the Copenhagen Zoo’s decision to kill a healthy young giraffe, named Marius, because he didn't fit into the zoo's breeding program, sparked international outrage while bringing to light what is said to be a common practice in zoos. A little more than a month later, the same zoo also killed four healthy lions, including two young cubs. During the past two months five zoo animals have been needlessly killed, and these events have really stirred up innumerable people, including those who never got involved in issues centering on animal protection. So, Zoos or Morgues: What is Going on in Europe?

While the zoo claims the animals were euthanized, of course this wasn't mercy killing but rather one more "zoothanasia", heartless and needless elimination conducted by zoos when animals are deemed to surplus beings who no longer are useful to them or are too difficult to house. 

We have seen too many innocent animals lose their lives at the hands of zoo officials unwilling to take responsibility for the individuals that they have deliberately brought into being. The problem is not Bern Zoo, Copenhagen Zoo or Longleat Safari Park; all of whom have slaughtered healthy animals in the name of 'management' in the last few months. The root of the issue is the very fact that these animals are kept in captivity in the first place", Captive Animals’ Protection Society (CAPS) Director, Liz Tyson, said. Culling "surplus" animals in this way is just one example of the practices carried out by zoos which prompted CAPS to start Zoo Awareness Weekend, in the early 1990s. According to CAPS, between 3,000 and 5,000 healthy animals are euthanized in zoos across Europe every year - a practice, critics say, that is ultimately focused more on preserving zoos’ bottom line than ensuring the well-being of the animals they house.

These absolutely unnecessary killings need to be openly and vigorously protested and the people who justify them in one way or another need to be taken to task. Anthrozoologists interested in the study of human-animal interactions really need to get some studies going to learn about what motivates people to view other animals as disposable objects and then claim it's okay to kill them as if they're throwing away a piece of furniture or garbage. Likewise, those people interested in compassionate conservation also need to continue to work to get people who are in charge of who lives and who dies to value the lives of sentient beings who deserve the best lives we can give them when they are being held captive. That is the least we can do for individuals who we keep in cages and whose freedom to live their lives as they're meant to be lived has been taken away. In conservation biology, Ethics must be firmly implanted.

Sources - References: 

Worth reading:

Oxford University Press

(with a lot of info both in English and Greek) 

Ζωολογικοί κήποι ή νεκροτομεία; Τι συμβαίνει στην Ευρώπη;  http://on.fb.me/1qIMI5s (Fb)

Zoos have existed in their present form for nearly two-hundred years, originally intended to present the curious public with a host of exotic species which they would have likely never seen otherwise. But while these facilities have certainly helped educate and inspire generations since to the wonders of the natural world, zoos by design can only offer a filtered glimpse of the animals they contain -- with the creatures themselves paying the price for this experience through their lives of confinement. Our captivation, however, needn't require their captivity. Thanks to the proliferation of wildlife-monitoring web cameras today, it’s never been easier to recreate all the positive potential of zoos, but in a more enriching and humane way, by exhibiting animals in the setting nature intended: free in the wild. Welcome to The Dodo UnZoo -- a place to see all the animals we love without leaving home, and one that lets them remain in theirs. More at https://www.thedodo.com/welcome-to-the-dodo-unzoo-497272495.html

The Swiss zoo that killed a healthy bear cub earlier this month is finally facing legal action.

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