- Dr. Lesley DickieExecutive Director, EAZA
- Dr. Kristin LeusPopulation Management, EAZA
Tell the European Zoo Association to Stop Killing Healthy Animals
When a pair of five-month-old rare red river hogs, Sammi and Becca, were born at the Edinburgh Zoo, the zoo boasted, "We hope that this is the first of many contributions our Red River Hogs make to the breeding programme." Apparently the breeding program wasn't quite as excited because the piglets were soon deemed "surplus."
The zoo was advised by the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums European Endangered Species Programme to cull the piglets rather than find them a new home.
The European Endangered Species Programme claims the culling is necessary to maintain genetic diversity (so there aren't too many animals from one family in the captive gene pool), but if that's the case, and if the animals aren't candidates for release, then why breed the animals in the first place? To have a surplus of an endangered species should be an impossible oxymoron.
Contrary to the claim that zoos are a valuable resource for education and conservation efforts, it seems like all we're learning from a breeding program that results in culling is that birth announcements sell tickets.
The animal protection group, OneKind, has organized a campaign to help save the lives of the other three red river hog piglets who were born last month at the zoo. "OneKind believes it is wrong for these healthy, harmless animals to be killed ... If the zoo was unable to care for these animals, they should have been offered wildlife sanctuary or an alternative home found for them."
The conservation claims made by zoos are tenuous, at best, to start with -- except for a few successful species recovery programs (like the red wolf and Mexican gray wolf in the U.S.), most animals in captivity never see the world outside their enclosures. But zoos cannot claim to protect species when, in a controlled environment, they continue to kill healthy animals.
Tell the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums to take immediate action to stop these unnecessary culls and to give "surplus" animals a chance at life in a sanctuary instead of the death sentence.
Photo credit: Matt Dewar
- Executive Director, EAZA
Dr. Lesley Dickie
- Population Management, EAZA
Dr. Kristin Leus
I recently read on Change.org about the Red River Hog piglets who were culled by the Edinburgh Zoo. Reports indicate that the decision was made in accordance with EEP recommendations.
While it is important to maintain genetic diversity in a species, zoos are controlled environments and breeding programs should not produce healthy animals only to condemn them to death. Animals who are deemed unable to help advance a species should be able to live out their lives in a wildlife sanctuary.
The EAZA's mission is to promote education, research and conservation efforts in zoos. Zoos have been losing their credibility among the public as educational institutions, and when healthy animals are culled, it sends the message that zoos are more concerned about selling tickets than helping animals. This is especially true in the case of endangered species whose births are celebrated by the zoo, as was the case with Sammi and Becca, the Red River Hog piglets.
I urge you to take immediate action to review the EEP recommendations to ensure that animals in EAZA zoos are not bred only to be culled, and that any animals deemed "surplus" are recommended for rehoming rather than euthanasia.
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