Six lions destroyed at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park
By ChronReports | Posted: February 10, 2014
Lions at Longleat
Comments (4) Six lions at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park have been destroyed following "excessive violent behaviour".
The action was confirmed on the Longleat Facebook page after reports in the Mail on Sunday said staff were "outraged".
Longleat said it was forced to destroy the lions after a large increase in population at the park.
Five lions were put down because of genetic health problems and one after it was injured in an attack.
A statement released on the Longleat Facebook page said it would not have been responsible to move the lions to another collection.
And no responsible zoo would accept animals with "known high associated risks of neurological disorders and other genetically related health issues being passed on to later generations".
Reaction to the news from followers on the park's Facebook page was split with many condemning Longleat and others saying that they understood why it was forced to destroy the lions.
Sharon Gill said: "If you knew there were problems with the lioness when you got her, why put her in a situation she could breed?? You are supposed to be experts in these animals, and nothing will ever convince me that the welfare of that poor creature, let alone the others, justified what has been done. What was once considered, by myself, as one of the best wildlife parks in this country, is now somewhere I will never go near, ever again."
Gary Moore said: "Does the events in Copenhagen and longleat not bring into question the breeding programmes of animals in captivity! Both slaughters of these animals have been explained as inbreeding issues! This highlights a major issue now that animals being held in captivity are at risk the same as those in the wild! This because they are trapped in confinement with probable direct related animals! Bigger picture here and a more worrying one !"
But Catriona Newman said: "Thank you for the explanation. Tough decision for all the staff. As part of animal conservation it would not be fair to keep animals with such major problems."
And Holly Brinkworth said: "They had brain tumours!!! They would have got progressively worse affecting them physically and it would have a massive effect on their behaviour! It would have been crueller to keep them alive they would not have had a good quality of life!"
Longleat has released a statement on its Facebook page.
Here is the statement in full.
"The lioness Louisa arrived at Longleat in 2011 as an 18-month-old cub.
"At the age of 13 months, at the collection where she was previously held, Louisa exhibited neurological clinical signs which were thought to have been caused by inadequate nutrition leading to hypovitaminosis A.
"This was treated at the time but never fully resolved itself and she continued to exhibit clinical signs of head tilt and tremors throughout her life.
"Despite suitable nutrition these neurological signs were present in her cubs, which were clearly distinct from other litters in the pride as they all individually exhibited adverse neurological signs such as ataxia, incoordination and odd aggressive behaviour that were not considered normal or appropriate compared to other animals within the collection.
"Reviewing the genetic lineage of Louisa and her cubs it was found both Louisa's parents exhibited relatively high levels of inbreeding, prior to arrival, at a grand parentage level and great-grand parentage level (in some cases grandparents and great grandparents being the same animals). "Further reviews of the pathology of related animals revealed a high level of brain tumours, which had not previously been reported in lions, as well as a general failure of normal neurological development.
"Longleat has never seen these problems in the many other cubs born here over the years and has an extremely good nutritional programme meaning that dietary inadequacies have never been an issue.
"The only consistent link with all these neurological developmental disorders has been Louisa and this was attributed to her confused and poorly managed genetic history prior to her arrival at Longleat.
"Longleat believes it would not have been responsible to translocate these animals to another collection, nor would any responsible zoological collection accept this particular group of lions, with the known high associated risks of neurological disorders and other genetically related health issues being passed on to later generations.
"After considering the pressures in the group, due to the recent increase in pregnancies, and the developmental disorders present in the cubs it was reluctantly decided that euthanasia was the responsible option for these individuals.
"Henry was a separate case, and his injuries were a result of aggression from both his brother and Louisa, who attacked him on the 7th January.
"His wounds were severe, and despite veterinary review and management, it was decided euthanasia was the only humane option on welfare grounds.
"These decisions involve communication with all of our current staff, management team and with independent external ethical reviews undertaken to ensure we are consistent with best practice."
Read more: Six lions destroyed at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park | Bath Chronicle