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BACKGROUND

In February a Copenhagen Zoo put down an 18-month-old healthy male giraffe called Marius because he was considered useless for breeding because his genes were too common. Those in the know say this practice is quite normal and is a fate that befalls thousands of zoo animals across Europe every year.

The 340 zoos that belong to the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) must sign up to the organisation's various breeding programmes, and for each species in the programme there is a studbook - a kind of inventory which records every animal's birth, genetic make-up, and death.

EAZA does not publish these records or advertise the number of healthy animals that have been culled, but executive director Dr Lesley Dickie estimates that somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 animals are "management-euthanised" in European zoos in any given year.

THE FACTS

  • Five giraffes have been put down in Europe since October 2012, all of them in Denmark.
  • Four hippos were killed across Europe in 2012 - in Portugal, Spain, Germany and Denmark.
  • Twenty-two healthy zebras were put down between 2000 and 2012, including one at Marwell in the UK.
  • Eleven Arabian Oryx were killed in Edinburgh, London, Rotterdam and Zurich between 2000 and 2009, plus dozens more at zoos in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (which are part of the European breeding programme).

 

Read the EAZA Yearbook 2007/2008 (the latest publicly available edition). 

Read How many healthy animals do zoos put down? by Hannah Barnes. 

 

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