Swedish Zoo Admits to Killing 9 Healthy Young ‘Surplus’ Lions

A Swedish zoo has come under fire for its controversial, and seemingly cruel, practice of killing healthy young lions.

PEOPLE contacted Borås Djurpark, near Gothenburg, which openly admits and explains its euthanasia, or “culling,” practice.

“In Borås Zoo, we have euthanized 9 young surplus lions since 2013, for population management reasons. These lions were not cubs, but subadults around 1.5 -2 years old which had to leave their family unit because of group aggressions and other welfare reasons … these animals were unfortunately not possible to relocate within the community,” states the zoo’s press release, authored by CEO Bo Kjellson.

“We use translocation, contraception and the euthanasia of surplus animals as population management tools,” writes Kjellson. “In accordance with animal welfare, our animals should be able to express all natural behaviors possible, including breeding and the caring of offspring. Euthanasia is our last choice, when all other potential solutions are proven impossible. We follow EAZA’s [European Association of Zoos and Aquaria] Code of Ethics and the Culling Statement, which are also reflected in the WAZA [World Association of Zoos and Aquariums] policy for the same issue … We are very transparent about this concept, both in our communication with our visiting guests and students, as well as in our communication with the media.”

Indeed, the chief executive of the park told Swedish broadcaster SVT, “It’s no secret in any way and we do not try to hide that we’re working this way. So it’s unfortunately a natural path for groups of lions.”

While the zoo’s methods seem cruel and unnecessary, the EAZA also issued a statement in support of the Borås zoo, saying it’s “aware of the culling of African lions at our member zoo.”

The EAZA goes on to say that it “is satisfied that Borås Zoo has been acting within the EAZA Code of Ethics and according to the terms of the EAZA Culling Statement, the guiding documents for the regulation of euthanasia as a management practice. The animals in question were killed humanely at an appropriate age to avoid any compromise in welfare to them and to the parent animals.”

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: PEOPLE, Saryn Chorney