Last month, Allahpundit touched on the rather gruesome story of a Copenhagen zoo which shot Maurice the giraffe in the head and fed him to some lions. In closing, he asked what may have turned out to be a somewhat prophetic question.

How much of an uproar would there have been if Marius had belonged to a more aggressive, less cuddly species? Probably no death threats if he was Marius the alligator, I assume.

Well, AP, it looks like we may have at least a partial answer to that query. Granted, we’re not talking about an alligator here (or any other cold blooded killer from under the water) but how about if they killed some lions?

A Danish zoo that made international headlines last month when it killed a healthy giraffe is once again in the news after it killed four lions to make way for a new male.

The lions were killed Monday, said Tobias Stenbaek Bro, a spokesman for the Copenhagen Zoo.

Two of those were young lions that were not old enough to survive by themselves and would have been killed by the new male lion if it had the chance, Bro told CNN. He said the zoo had tried to place them elsewhere, “but unfortunately there wasn’t any interest.”

The other two are the youngsters’ parents, described by the Copenhagen Zoo as a “very old” breeding pair.

There’s no word yet as to whether or not these were the actual lions who dined on Marius. This time the explanation doesn’t sound like it revolves entirely around genetics and a fear of inbreeding, but rather the mating and social habits of prides of lions. The new male coming in will, apparently, kill off any other male’s offspring before spreading his seed among the available females, along with getting grouchy with any other breeding age males. There are once again more than a few people upset and asking if that was really a good trade… an adult pair and two cubs for one new male?

The story has also reignited the same debate over whether or not zoos still have a place in civilized society and if their housing of animals is actually kind or cruel to them. Does the educational value of such captivity serve a purpose worth the perceived costs? Without pasting in long winded quotes from either, I’ll point you to a pair of contrasting opinions on the subject. The first is from Lesley Dickie, the Executive Director of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria. It won’t come as any shock that she’s in full defense of the whole lot of culling going on. The second is from Liz Tyson, Director of The Captive Animals’ Protection Society. Again, you won’t be surprised to find that she basically wants all the zoos to be closed.

Personally, I haven’t been to a zoo in years and consider myself pretty much entirely done with them. (In contrast, I have no problem with aquariums, and using smaller fish – not big predators like killer whales – as entertainment. I’m not sure how much deep thought and longing for the open seas is going on in something that uses a ganglion knot for a brain.) Seeing the larger zoo animals in particular – especially the big predators who seem so much smarter, as well as the primates- is just too depressing for words. I can’t imagine they are happy there. And I also see no need to round up and pen in a bunch of animals we’re not going to eat. Further, the “educational” value of zoos seems to be pretty much nil, as i see it, living in an era where we can summon up far more detailed views of them on demand.

But by the same token, I’m not out there lobbying to shut down all the zoos, and I certainly don’t see it as the government’s place to do so. (This may seem surprising coming from somebody who has spent so much time volunteering at animal shelters and providing a home for rescue dogs and cats.) As much as I love our furry friends, I do not believe in the concept of “animal rights.” The entire concept of rights is a human fabrication – with apologies to you guys that want chimps declared people – and animals only have whatever “rights” we assign to them. (And they can change with our needs in any event.) If there is to be an end to zoos, it should come about because people lose interest in them and no longer support them financially.

Tags: animals zoo