Species protection in the zoo: reproduction and losses

Species protection in the zoo: reproduction and losses

Are people allowed to kill animals kept in zoos? The question is acute in Nuremberg – the Guinea baboons are thriving a little too well there.

To be honest, we humans don’t know what is important or indifferent to these baboons in the Nuremberg Zoo Photo: Daniel Karmann/dpa

Baboons in danger: Nuremberg Zoo wants to kill animals,” was the headline on ProSieben at the weekend. The headline inadvertently brings the dilemma to the point. Because the Guinea baboons, which come from a relatively small range in West Africa, are actually in danger. Their habitat is shrinking and populations have been declining for decades. There is no improvement in sight, on the contrary: one of their most important retreats, the Niokolo-Koba National Park in Senegal, is on the UNESCO World Heritage List in Danger due to the ongoing deterioration in its protection status.

Precisely because of this dangerous situation, the zoo now wants to kill some individuals from its population and submitted a corresponding submission to the environmental committee of the city of Nuremberg at the end of last week for consultation on February 21st. On the one hand, given the precarious situation of the animals in their homeland, it is urgent to maintain a healthy reserve population in zoos.

This is the only way they can be resettled in their original habitat later, when the problems are hopefully under control. They wouldn’t be the first: bison, Przwalski’s horse, black-footed polecat and others have shown the way. All of these animal species would have become extinct long ago if they had not been bred in zoos and, after appropriate measures, released back into the wild in their natural range.

In order for this option to one day also exist for Guinea baboons, it is necessary that the monkey gang constantly provides offspring. The animals do this with great joy – mating and raising young is one of their elementary basic needs. However, since lions, leopards and birds of prey are not missing in the zoo, but are housed in other enclosures, and because a concerned veterinarian rushes to the scene in the event of illness, the number of baboons continues to increase.

Killing only for “reasonable reasons”

Simple population biology: In nature, the reproduction rate is designed to compensate for all kinds of losses. In the zoo, on the other hand, the animals live warm and safe, grow up well protected and live to be very old. There are now 45 baboons in Nuremberg, although the facility is only designed for 25. A situation that is unsustainable in the long term, even from an animal welfare perspective.

Contraception does not work as desired, other zoos do not have any free capacity, reintroduction is currently impossible due to a lack of suitable habitats for baboon needs. That’s why the zoo now wants to kill some of its animals in order to preserve a demographically healthy, reproducing population. Some animal rights activists react “shocked” (T-Online) and, as expected, threaten criminal charges.

According to the Animal Protection Act, killing animals is only permitted for “reasonable reasons”. The social consensus considers it sensible to breed pigs and cattle with state subsidies under rather questionable conditions in order to then process them into cutlets, sausage and goulash.

However, when zoo animals end up in lion cages after a comparatively paradisiacal life, there is great outrage. Just remember the case of the giraffe Marius in the Copenhagen Zoo, whose killing and subsequent use as food for predators led to a veritable international shitstorm. Ultimately, a giraffe is nothing more than a cow with an extravagant neck.

The inhibition threshold is higher in monkeys because they are more closely related to us and are significantly more intelligent. However, the latter can also be said of pigs, which does not save the funny, snouting bristle animals from the “sensible” end as hoepeters.

More brutal death in the savannah

So is an elevated cholesterol level fundamentally more morally valuable than preserving a species? With this initiative, the Nuremberg Zoo not only wants to solve its monkey problem, but also initiate a social debate. The aim is to fundamentally recognize the “biological indication” for species protection as a reasonable reason for killing in order to achieve legal certainty in the population management of species kept in human care. The need for this is undoubtedly increasing in view of the increasingly dramatic biodiversity crisis.

In order to save at least some of the species that we are at risk of losing in the next few decades, the only realistic solution in many cases is “ex situ” conservation breeding, i.e. in human care – which then inevitably involves killing animals belongs, which can then end up in the enclosure next door, to the delight of the lions. In nature the result would be the same anyway, except that we, humans, would have stayed out of it.

The affected baboon is probably pretty indifferent to this, apart from the fact that the circumstances of his death in the zoo are probably a lot more pleasant than in the savannah. Especially since it can help ensure that there will still be Guinea baboons in the future. And that’s what we all want in the end: the baboons as well as the lions and us humans too.


This news article has been translated from the original language to English by WorldsNewsNow.com.

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