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Zoologischer Garten Magdeburg Magdeburg Zoo director defends tiger killing

Discussion in 'Germany' started by Peter Dickinson, 17 Apr 2010.

  1. Peter Dickinson

    Peter Dickinson Well-Known Member

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    I am here to lend my support to Mr Kai Perret and the staff of Magdeburg Zoo in their quite reasonable decision to euthanase three generic tiger cubs.
    Now they are facing fines and possible imprisonment because of the ignorance of an animal welfare organisation.

    Magdeburg Zoo director defends tiger killing
     
  2. Sun Wukong

    Sun Wukong Well-Known Member

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    This case highlights several problems modern zoos and their breeding programs have to face:

    1) What to do with surplus/unwanted offspring? In former times, the tigers would have gone to a circus or a small roadside zoo. As more and more Western circuses phase out their exotic animal husbandry and roadside zoos are mostly no more (at least in the Western countries), this option is no longer valid.

    2) The German "Tierschutzgesetz" clearly states in §17 that a vertebrate can only be killed for a "judicious reason" (i.e. consumption, hunting, fishing, plague control, defense, to end uncurable suffering/disease...). Being surplus isn't a "judicious reason"-something animal right activists love to use to their advantage.

    3) Biological systematics can make practical breeding of animals ometimes really hard. Several species face a constant overthrow of their systematic status, with formerly singular species being split up into new sub-and sometimes even new species, based on (molecular) characteristics even the individual specialists can't always agree on.
    In regard to the tiger, there are some who think that there are 9 subspecies, some that there are less (Caspian = Amur tiger), some that assume the Sumatran Tiger might develop into or even is a species of its own, and some who think that the tiger is a monospecific species with different local varieties, adopted to the local habitat and who would only consider the insular tigers (Sumatran, Bali, Javan) as seperate subspecies- if at all.
    [ame=http://www.amazon.com/Riding-Tiger-Conservation-Human-Dominated-Landscapes/dp/0521640571/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271518439&sr=1-6]Amazon.com: Riding the Tiger: Tiger Conservation in Human-Dominated Landscapes (9780521640572): John Seidensticker, Peter Jackson, Sarah Christie, Richard Burge: Books[/ame]

    Currently, the 9 subspecies theory is the most widely accepted one and the one the zoo breeding coordinators rely on. But who knows what is going to be the situation in, say, ten years?
     
  3. Johnny

    Johnny Well-Known Member

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    I wonder why is it such a problem if the father wasn't 100% pure-blooded? Does it really matter when a tiger is for a few percent a hybrid? By incorporating these animals in a breeding program consisting out of mainly siberian tigers, the hybrid genes should be slowly phased out, wouldn't you say?

    But I am puzzled about the animal welfare organisation which complained. Wasn't it also an animal welfare organisation that wanted zoo berlin to euthanize knut, because it would be hand-reared? Do these organisations even have the faintest idea what they are talking about?
     
  4. Sun Wukong

    Sun Wukong Well-Known Member

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    To phase out would mean to produce more unwanted tigers on the way. And no, @Johnny;although we're talking about different organisations here (in the case of Knut it was Peta's "zoo expert" Frank Albrecht), the average German anti-zoo animal right activist usually doesn't have a clue of what (s)he is railing against and is impervious to refutations. Worse, (s)he usually doesn't offer a realistic alternative nor has any correspondence to reality and thus can't render constructive critique if required.
     
  5. Johnny

    Johnny Well-Known Member

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    Yes, you would produce more 'unwanted' tigers, but the unwanted genes would decrease every new generation. Assuming that the majority of the fathers genes already were siberian, and the mother was fully siberian, I fail to see the problem.
     
  6. Sun Wukong

    Sun Wukong Well-Known Member

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    The problem: unwanted tigers nobody wants to have. Where to "store" them? And why to put so much effort in it-instead of going for the "easier" solution: kill the cubs and neuter the male and all the other tigers involved...
     
  7. Panthera Puss

    Panthera Puss Well-Known Member

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    Breeding programmes will always throw up surplus animals - why were these cubs any different? Or did they know they were breeding 'generics'? There are good zoos with tigers who can't get on the breeding programme but would love legitimately-bred cubs.
     
  8. Sun Wukong

    Sun Wukong Well-Known Member

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    A good breeding program should minimize the amount of surplus animals. Obviously, no good zoo was interested or had the capacity...
     
  9. JonnyS18

    JonnyS18 Well-Known Member

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    Does anyone really know what the big deal with ''maximum purity'' is?? I completely agree if there is a strong gene pool of one particular subspecies of animal (siberian tiger for example) then there is no need to cross breed. But why has it come to the point now where any tiger with a hint of foreign genetics has to be killed? What drastic advantages does a pure bred have over a 'slightly less' pure-bred. In my opinion cross bred animals tend to be healthier than pure breds simply because they have wider genetics, so obviously the health & well being of the animal has very little to do with zoo breeding standards.
     
  10. Steve Robinson

    Steve Robinson Well-Known Member

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    ... ... or was aware that the cubs were available?
     
  11. Johnny

    Johnny Well-Known Member

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    But why should nobody want them? If they are linked with genetically pure siberians the unwanted genes would be phased out even further. Why shouldn 't there be zoos who see the ridiculesness of the 'genetic purity' policy? If the animal doesn't suffer from it ( and the public doesn't see it anyway), then why following this policy so harshly?
     
  12. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    We are totally veering of the subject here.

    I think it is totally absurd some animal welfare organisation has a judicial say in conservation breeding programmes whatsoever. If we look at livestock, nobody gives a damn if a zoonotic disease rears its ugly head, all healthy animals get euthanised. Now, there ... is no fair reason other than the prime economic to euthanise. In the case of Magdeburg Zoo Dr. Kai Perret is being legally challenged for acting in accordance with the conservation breeding programme. I do feel the man should be legally supported by the ZSL people responsible for the programme. Make it broader and throw out the AW and their pseud-science ilk legally.

    Thank you. ;)
     
  13. Jana

    Jana Well-Known Member

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    Johnny Why would nobody want these cubs? Because they are not allowed to produce offspring within EEP and there is a big offer of other tigers. Every EAZA zoo that would want an Amur tiger, can get a pure bred, the EEP population is still strong number- and genetic-wise, even after the decision to phase-out Roman´s descendants. The cub production within program has been limited for years, just not to get out of holding capacity. And every good zoo that would want a tiger or two for "exhibit only" can choose for example from 30+ animals, that were found to be generic over night and almost each zoo with such a tiger would love to get rid of it, only if they could fine an acceptable candidate. Why to create an even stronger overpressure in european zoos with 3 new cubs?

    Kifaru Bwana It´s improbable that the Magdeburg director would receive a support in this matter from ZSL people. Leipzig asked for such support in a planned similar step and was flatly rejected.
     
  14. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    One would expect more support when undesired/unplanned generics or hybrids are involved. Either way, you lose ....
     
  15. jwer

    jwer Well-Known Member

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    I really don't understand this. Aren't the german laws clear on this?

    If this is correct;

    ... and i have no reason to believe it isn't, then the Mageburg Zoo (in my opinion) clearly violated the laws concerning the killing of a vertebrate. I don't care wether or not it was "necessary" or improves the breeding programme.

    If you feel that the laws are inadequate or should be adressed, then FIRST change the rules, THEN cull the litter. As long as these laws aren't changed i wouldn't support anyone if i where the ZSL.

    Besides, what's the difference between killing this litter and kill any other hybrid tiger in captivity. Should every zoo in Europe that holds hybrids just kill them to free up space for the EEP?

    Next point; what is "surplus". Maybe some genes turn out to be overrepresented, should they be killed to free up space to hold lesser presented lines?

    If you condone these kills, IMO theres no objective limit left. Who judges which animals can be killed and which can't?

    IMO Magdeburg could have just spayd and neuter these animals and keep them for display purposes untill they die. Maybe in the end there would have been a zoo that would keep them and then they could switch back to breeding with pure animals.

    Anyways, i don't think these animals should have been killed, purely based on the laws that are currently in Germany, and i can't think of a sufficiënt way to change the laws and not give everyone the opportunity to kill anything on the count of "surplus".
     
  16. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    German law is indeed clear on this. I just feel that the law is inadequate where wildlife and zoo animals are concerned and does not take into account species conservation value or considerations in terms of their management within zoos.

    What perhaps has promoted this arguement is:
    A) In livestock industry culling animals is more or less routine
    B) as in some zoos euthanasia of unwanteds does occur and is not publicised.

    Further, I think - but not sure - that the EEP guidelines of the tiger programme are clear on this. I do not know whether Zoo Magdeburg did consult first with the species coordinator or not? :confused:
     
  17. jwer

    jwer Well-Known Member

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    When you want to incorporate something like this into a law you are entering such a grey area that you really don't want to be in as either a law enforcement agency or a judge. IMO it's rather impossible (or at least VERY hard) to clearly and objectively state when zoo animals can be killed and when not. There's no real definition of the word "surplus" possible...

    Imo the livestock industry is not in the same league as Zoo's. Zoo's should sooner be compared to private individuals keeping exotics then companies that produce meat for consumption. And it seems that if euthenasia occurs then they are committing a crime, and the people involved should be prosecuted. The fact the law isn't enforced properly just proves that the green-wingers might actually have a point.

    What do you mean "clear on this"? If they state that the animals should be killed then that isn't more important then a LAW is it? Besides, they got the green light to breed, but afterwards they found out that they ended up with hybrids. That's not the same as willingly breeding hybrids...

    To be perfectly honest, I don't really see why Magdeburg couldn't keep these animals for display only and continue breeding when they were dead or moved on to another collection.
     
  18. Sun Wukong

    Sun Wukong Well-Known Member

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    The German Tierschutzgesetz IS inadequate on this regard. This has been discussed in Germany on the behalf of various other similar cases ("Knut", anyone?) before, without any useful outcome. Sometimes, like in this case, national and international (German vs EU, zoo vs. animal right etc.) regulations collide, making it almost impossible to follow one law without violating another.

    In Switzerland or Denmark, the national legal system allows zoos more freedom in their decision on this behalf. Surplus animals can be euthanized if no apt husbandry to place them into can be found. However, the media there will still try to create turmoil when a popular species is involved-see the hippo discussion at Basle.

    For those who might not know otherwise and think that the Madgeburg Zoo staff went rogue: the decision to euthanize the tiger cubs in question was undertaken on orders of the studbook coordinator. IF you're looking for a scapegoat, blame him/her-or Henning Wiesner, who in his time as director of the Hellabrunn zoo reacted snooty and stubborn when some people (who happen to know their stuff) pointed out to him that the subspecies origin of the very tiger causing all this mess was somehow fishy, and insisted on breeding with the animal.

    The Madgeburg Zoo clearly didn't jump the gun on the situation, but assembled a factual commission first and contacted the local state veterinarian. More can be read on the public explaination published by the zoo:
    ZOO-MAGDEBURG
    Do ask if you need any help with the translation.

    "To be perfectly honest, I don't really see why Magdeburg couldn't keep these animals for display only and continue breeding when they were dead or moved on to another collection".
    Then I would like to ask you, in all honesty, to climb down from your ivory tower and assemble a fully equipped, well-managed and financially sustainable exotic animal rescue center network that could keep tigers and other exotics legally and appropriately, especially in accordance with German law... There is a serious lack of such institutions all over Europe, and so far hardly anything has come up other than people trying to tell zoos what they should do and what not, but without offering any realistic alternative or (financial) support.

    "IMO it's rather impossible (or at least VERY hard) to clearly and objectively state when zoo animals can be killed and when not. There's no real definition of the word "surplus" possible..."

    I think there are various situations where it is pretty clear when a zoo animal can be killed; I even mentioned some already (to avoid uncurable disease/suffering, to prevent an epidemic spread...). Additionally, I also think that there are pretty clear situations in which a zoo animal is surplus: when the zoo cannot offer any short/long-term adequate solution of keeping the animal appropriately and when no adequate alternative husbandry can be found. Or do you think it would be better if the tigers had ended up in some inadequate makeshift cages behind the scenes or, to provide more grist for the anti-zoo lobby mill, had been given to some shady animal trader and had been sent off to China?

    Funny enough, several German zoos like Nuremberg or Hellabrunn kill part of their surplus zoo livestock(sic!) every year to feed the whole carcasses to their carnivores (a recommendable thing to do, if you ask me). But since these are "only" herbivores such as sasin or axis deer, hardly anyone rallies against this (thank goodness). But once "holy" animals such as tigers or hippos are involved, everyone goes bonkers...Speciesism in its purest form.
     
  19. Toddy

    Toddy Well-Known Member

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    Exactly! The public in Denmark is fine with us feeding surplus antelope/zebra etc. to our carnivores, but if a zoo has to euthanize a "cutie" the media goes on a frenzy. It has happened twice in the last couple of years with Aalborg Zoo (bear cubs) and Copenhagen Zoo (tiger cubs). Yet nothing is said when it is a blackbuck in Ree Park being used as cheetah food?

    Fortunately, both zoos stuck to their guts and the whole thing died out pretty soon.
     
  20. jwer

    jwer Well-Known Member

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    Didn't i give the answer to this quite clearly? I think that the Magdeburg Zoo is (quite probably) able to keep these animals themselves. If they, in their lifetime, could be moved on to another suitable collection then fine but if not (which is, seeing the shortage of said rescue centers, quite likely the case) then they should have kept them themselves.

    I'm sure the German law will provide escapes in their laws for uncurable disease/suffering or epidemic spread!? Else no elderly animal would ever be able to be euthanised, and i bet they are. So that's not the point.

    You call that an objective rule? How would ever define what "appropriately" is, and when is there no long/short term solution? When have you tried hard enough to find a new home? I wouldn't like to be the judge with a law like this.

    I think that Magdeburg would be able to hold these animals themselves, but they think that freeing their space up for pure-blood animals is "better", and i beg to differ.

    Maybe true, but killing these animals actually serves a purpose other then clearing up space. In order to feed the carnivores, animals have to be killed. I do see a distinct difference.

    This also would get me a lot less twitchy if there wasn't a clear financial advantage to Magdeburg Zoo. It somehow annoys me a hell of a lot more that animals are killed for financial gain. Tiger cubs bring in money, and keeping the hybrids as display animals and not having cubs born means less income, so let's kill them. Maybe that's not Magdeburg's point at all, but it lies underneath it all and it bugs my conscience.