My partner runs a zoo, and I am, in general, supportive of them - primarily because of their ability to engage and educate people, and also because of the work many of them do in conserving endangered species. It is important to understand, too, that euthanasia is part and parcel of animal husbandry, whether it be in a zoo, on a farm or with pets in the home. Euthanasia can be beneficial for an institution and for other animals: it can allow other individuals to get better care and attention - even survive.
So I would understand, in principle,
So sometimes euthanasia is necessary. The ethical considerations are the same whether it's a tiger, a rat, a terrapin. You can't, in general, breed animals in captivity to go back into the wild. So animals in captivity should be and are kept on contraceptives - although some zoos do argue that, for the benefit of the adults, some should go through the breeding process and raise offspring. We have to ask why was this animal born in the first place, if it was destined to be "unwanted".
The principal role of zoo animals, I feel, is as ambassadors for nature's wild masterpieces, as tools for education and public engagement, to teach people about conservation and to motivate them to be concerned about the plight of animals in the wild. This animal surely could have played that role elsewhere.
This incident is probably the biggest PR disaster for zoos in recent memory. The belligerent arrogance of this particular zoo in the face of a worldwide campaign to save the animal will have global repercussions. People are polarised about zoos: they are either for or against. And the vast majority will not bother to find out why this happened; they will make a judgment. My partner will have to go to her zoo this morning and face a barrage of emails and a public outcry.
People will never even try to understand why this giraffe had to die when the
This zoo was, at least, transparent. When
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