Copenhagen Zoo has killed four lions (two old parents and their two cubs) to make way for a new male lion from another city for breeding with two females at the zoo.
The culling of the lions comes only a month after the same zoo put down a giraffe to protect the genetic diversity of the species, in other words to prevent inbreeding.
The parent lions were an old breeding pair and the zoo authorities decided that their young offspring were not old enough to fend for themselves and would have been killed by the new male. Although attempts were made to place them in other zoos, there were no offers to take them.
The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), the governing body for some 345 institutions in 41 countries, says that no codes of conduct have been broken and it told the US network CNN that about 3,000-5,000 animals are killed each year in the management of zoo populations, but more usually smaller beasts.
However the zoo-going public remains unsatisfied and was especially offended when the giraffe was publicly dissected before being fed to the lions.