Number of animals killed in zoos each year

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How many animals die in zoos?

It is not realistically possible to total all captive animal deaths as most go unreported as it is not something zoos want to publicise. Generally only known 'popular' animals are reported as these are noticed or would be noticed missing and therefore the zoo releases details preemptively.

However, animals are routinely killed in zoos every year and many are young and healthy.

The killing of animals in European zoos

Sit-in protest in Lisbon for Marius. A healthy 18 month old giraffe killed in front of a crowd at Copenhagen Zoo.
Sit-in protest in Lisbon for Marius. A healthy 18 month old giraffe killed in front of a crowd at Copenhagen Zoo.

After Marius, an 18 month old healthy giraffe, was killed in front of a crowd at Copenhagen Zoo in 2014 Simon Tonge, the chairman of The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), stated in a BBC Radio 4 interview[1][2]:

As many as 5,000 creatures are put down annually to manage populations. It is necessary to "euthanise" animals and that zoos can not afford to be "sentimental" about the issue. Many zoos do it, have to do it, choose to do it because it’s a good way of regulating populations.

After a barrage of critical news coverage Copenhagen Zoo's Scientific Director Bengt Holst said:

This is not a thing that should go anywhere outside Denmark. We all know it's done every day. We do it when it's necessary. If I should take an average over 10 years - it could be probably something like 20, 30 [per year].[3]

In the BBC Radio 4 interview EAZA Executive Director Lesley Dickie said that between 3,000 and 5,000 healthy animals are killed at european zoos each year. However, the Captive Animals Protection Society (CAPS) estimate that 10,000 healthy animals are killed at European zoos each year.[citation needed] Liz Tyson, CAPS Director, said:

The fact that zoos are killing healthy animals in their thousands and yet are unable, or perhaps simply unwilling, to put an exact figure on how many lives have been deliberately ended is appalling. Whether it is a deliberate cover-up or, as suggested by the Executive Director of Newquay and Paignton Zoos’ parent company, some animals’ deaths are simply not important enough to monitor, it should ring alarm bells for anyone that believes the zoo industry prioritises the interests of the animals under its care. To learn that, in addition to this, zoos kill animals as a means to avoid the cost of giving them veterinary treatment simply reinforces our concerns”.[4]

Note: The these statistics relate to zoos in Europe only.

Zoo often claim that their purpose is the conservation of animals.

See also

Captive Animal Deaths 2023

Category:Captive Animals

Category:Deaths in Captivity

External links

Killing animals at the zoo The New Yorker

Copenhagen Zoo in the News Again for Their Failure to Protect Imprisoned Animals Freedom for Animals

Copenhagen Zoo Kills Three Wolves to Use their Space as Temporary Playground for Children News 18

Surplus animals: the cycle of hell: a study of captive wildlife in the United States PDF Animal Advocate Hub

Culling in Captivity Born Free