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Copenhagen Zoo that provoked outrage after putting down a healthy giraffe has killed a family of four lions to make way for a new young male lion.

The Danish zoo says it “had to euthanize” two cubs and their parents after it failed to re-home them.

The 16-year-old male and 14-year-old female were nearing the end of their natural lives in captivity, it added.

Last month, Copenhagen Zoo killed Marius the giraffe because it was deemed surplus to requirements.

Copenhagen Zoo that provoked outrage after putting down Marius the giraffe has killed a family of four lions to make way for a new young male lion

Copenhagen Zoo that provoked outrage after putting down Marius the giraffe has killed a family of four lions to make way for a new young male lion (photo CBC)

“Because of the pride of lions’ natural structure and behavior, the zoo has had to euthanize the two old lions and two young lions who were not old enough to fend for themselves,” the zoo said in a statement.

According to zookeepers, the male cub “would have been killed by the new male lion as soon as he got the chance.”

The zoo said it had asked other parks to take the 10-month-old cubs, but had received no offers.


The new male lion is due to arrive in the next few days and will be introduced to the zoo’s two female lions who, born in 2012, have reached breeding age.

Last month, the manager of the zoo received death threats after healthy two-year-old giraffe Marius was put down and later dissected in front of visitors.

Copenhagen Zoo said the animal did not fit in with the park’s breeding program but the move shocked animal lovers across the world.

Despite the outcry over the death, the zoo said it did not believe it was necessary to change its procedures.

A spokesman for Copenhagen Zoo said there would be no public dissection of the lions since “not all our animals are dissected in front of an audience”.

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The bid to save Marius the giraffe from destruction at Copenhagen Zoo has failed, and the animal was put down on Sunday morning.

Thousands of people had signed an online petition appealing for a change of heart over 18-month-old Marius.

The zoo said it had no choice because of European rules to avoid in-breeding.

Marius was due to be killed by a bolt gun, not a lethal injection, which would contaminate the meat.

Two zoos, one in the UK and one in Sweden, had reportedly put in last-ditch offers to take Marius in.

Marius was due to be killed by a bolt gun, not a lethal injection, which would contaminate the meat

Marius was due to be killed by a bolt gun, not a lethal injection, which would contaminate the meat

On Saturday Bengt Holst, scientific director at the Danish zoo, defended Marius’s destruction, saying his genes were already well represented among giraffes at the zoo.

He said he could not understand the fuss over Marius, pointing out that, for instance, 700-800 deer are killed every year at a deer park north of Copenhagen to control their numbers.

The zoo planned to dissect the animal after it was killed, before feeding it to the tigers and other carnivores.

“It would be absolutely foolish to throw away a few hundred kilos of meat,” Bengt Holst said according to the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

“Some is used for research and the rest for food.”

Animal rights campaigners have described the move as barbaric and have accused the zoo of being unethical.

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Danish animal rights campaigners are trying to save a healthy young giraffe at Copenhagen Zoo from being destroyed.

The zoo says it cannot keep the giraffe, named Marius, because of European rules to avoid in-breeding, and that attempts to find it a new home have failed.

Copenhagen Zoo says it needs to kill the giraffe before it becomes an adult and attempts to mate.

Campaigners say to do so would be barbaric.

Copenhagen Zoo says it needs to kill the giraffe before it becomes an adult and attempts to mate

Copenhagen Zoo says it needs to kill the giraffe before it becomes an adult and attempts to mate

Bengt Holst, scientific director at the zoo, said 18-month-old Marius’s genes were already well represented among giraffes at the zoo.

He could not understand the fuss Marius’s impending destruction had generated, pointing out that, for instance, 700-800 deer are killed every year at a deer park north of Copenhagen to control their numbers.

Marius is due to be killed by a bolt gun. The zoo will not use a lethal injection, because that would contaminate the meat.

The zoo plans to dissect the animal after it has been killed, before feeding it to the tigers and other carnivores.