This is a statement from the Executive Director of Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) in reaction to the recent decisions by the Copenhagen Zoo with respect to a giraffe in its collection
The story from the Copenhagen Zoo raises two key issues: whether euthanasia is an acceptable form of population control among captive populations; and whether the decision to use that event as a teachable moment was appropriate.
CAZA members work closely with other accredited zoos in Canada and around the world to ensure the healthiest and most diverse genetic makeup for the animals in our care.
In addition to helping ensure the health of these animals, these practices have resulted in a number of important conservation and species reintroduction success-stories – the black-footed ferret and the Rocky Mountain Northern leopard frogs being two examples.
One aspect of any effective and ethical captive breeding program is taking steps to ensure responsible population management control (i.e. birth control, separate males/females to control breeding, relocation, and euthanasia).
The euthanasia of animals is a very difficult and sensitive practice that must be done following careful reflection and search of alternatives, including transfer. Each CAZA accredited zoo must have a detailed euthanasia policy in place and follow generally accepted procedures to ensure the practice is carried out in a humane fashion.
One of the key missions of Canada’s accredited zoos and aquariums is to promote a better understanding of the natural world. Our members act as bridges between an increasingly urban population and a natural environment under growing human encroachment.The animals in our care are ambassadors for their species in the wild. They are key players in our education programs. And visitors to our institutions interact with them in ways that are appropriate for the species involved and that create a positive learning environment and clear lessons for all age groups.
While we understand that the Copenhagen Zoo saw this as a “teachable moment” and an opportunity to educate visitors on what, in the wild, is a natural occurrence, we believe that the educational value of such demonstrations must be assessed very carefully against their potential to shock and desensitize, and to raise additional and difficult questions, particularly among children”.
SOURCE Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA)