A zoo in Sweden admitted to killing healthy lion cubs because it could no longer keep them.
Borås Djurpark, an animal park in western Sweden, said it had euthanized nine healthy lion cubs since 2012 because they were not able to sell or relocate them, reported the Independent.
Bo Kjellson, chief executive of the park, told SVT that healthy animals are sometimes euthanized if they were rejected by their pride or cannot be relocated elsewhere.
“I think they were killed after two years,” Kjellson told the Swedish news station. “At that time we had tried to sell or relocate them to other zoos for a long time but unfortunately there were no zoos that could receive them, and when the aggressions became too big in the group we had to remove some animals.”
“It had to be them,” he added. “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.”
As for other lions, Kjellson said they are unsure what will happen to them, reported the Independent.
“Currently, the group works well, but some of them may become surplus animals, and then we will try to place them elsewhere,” Kjellson told SVT.
Since 2012, 13 cubs were born to three separate litters, reported the Independent. Out of the 13, only two have survived—two died by natural causes and the remaining were put down.
According to Swedish media, the cubs that were put down were named Simba, Rafiki, Nala, Sarabi, Kiara, Banzai, Kovu, Potter, and Weasley.
Simba, Rafiki, Nala, and Sarabi were born in spring 2012 and were all put down the following year. Kiara, Banzai, and Kovu were born in spring 2014 and were euthanized in 2015. Potter and Weasley who were born in 2016 were put down on Jan. 9. Their siblings, Granger and Dolores were sent to an unnamed zoo in the UK.
The zoo has been criticized for the handling of the lion cubs.
Helena Pedersen, a researcher in critical animal studies, told SVT that it is wrong for the zoo to use these animals for marketing purposes when they are born and people do not know what happens to them after they grow up.
“It is clear that there is a contrast to the public’s perception of what a zoo is,” Pederson told the news station.
“It’s an economic activity that the zoos do. I think everybody who works in a zoo knows that what draws people is the animal pups born in the spring. And what happens to the animals when they grow up is another question,” she continued.
“To kill animals as part of the organization, I think that upsets quite a few,” she added.
It is not only Pederson who was upset by the zoo’s decision, social media users have also expressed their anger over the killings.