Caring people may think that all animals in zoos are kept for the whole of their natural lives, but that is sadly not the case. When no longer needed, animals may be sold or loaned with complete disregard for those species for whom forming strong bonds is important to their wellbeing. Being moved to unfamiliar surroundings and adjusting to new social groups and new keepers can all be traumatic for the animals, as in the wild many species remain in their groups or families for life.
Zoos deliberately breed animals, even sometimes those that are not endangered, since babies attract the public, push up ticket sales and increase gift shop profits from the sale of cute toys. However, what happens when the babies grow up? Zoos are known to kill animals they no longer deem profitable or ‘useful,’ or simply because they do not have the facilities to house them.
The New Zealand Zoos Code of Welfare states that animals may be euthanised for a small number of reasons only, including when there is an over-representation of a particular sex or genetic line, when there are unwanted pregnancies and when there is a lack of accommodation.
There are no figures publically available for how many animals are killed annually in New Zealand zoos, but in Europe alone between 3,000 and 5,000 healthy animals are killed in zoos each year. By visiting zoos, people are unwittingly contributing to this practice.