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Court convicts Magdeburg Zoo workers for killing tiger cubs

DDP/DPA/The Local · 17 Jun 2010, 15:37

Published: 17 Jun 2010 15:37 GMT+02:00

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In May 2008. the men put the cubs to sleep directly after their birth because their father had not been 100 percent Siberian tiger as they initially thought.

Though none of the zoo workers will actually serve any time, should there be a new offence the zoo director must pay an €8,100 fine, the court said.

The employees defended their decision as a practical measure, saying the mongrel tigers were worthless, could not be used for breeding and would have taken up valuable space at the Magdeburg Zoo from pure-blooded animals. They said they had no other alternative because other zoos were not interested in taking on the baby big cats.

But the judge at the district court found the four guilty, saying there were “no sufficient reasons to kill less valuable, but totally healthy animals.”

Animal rights organisations filed charges after the incident more than two years ago.

The case is one of several in recent years in which Germany's zoos have butted heads with animal rights groups over the treatment of young animals.

Story continues below…

The Berlin Zoo’s polar bear cub Knut became a star in 2006 after an animal rights activist called for him to be euthanised because his mother had rejected him. Instead the zoo made the controversial decision to raise Knut was by hand, as did the Nuremberg Zoo when their polar bear cub Snowflake was born in 2008, despite picketing from animal rights protesters at her media debut.

And in March 2008, Berlin Zoo director Bernhard Blaszkiewitz admitted to being involved in the deaths of four wild cats when he headed the zoo's Tierpark facilities on the eastern outskirts of Berlin in 1991. Blaszkiewitz's admission came after allegations that hundreds of animals had disappeared from the zoo under dubious circumstances.

DDP/DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:54 June 17, 2010 by NYsteve
I am SURE that if offered to ANY zoo....they would have had a home. If the Magdeburg Zoo thought they were "worthless" they could have gave them to another zoo...and then no loss. I thought this "idea (pure-bred)" ended many years ago......sorry for the comparison, but this should not have happened. Any less funded zoo in the world would have bent over backwards to have these tiger cubs!
18:52 June 17, 2010 by vonSchwerin
To use an American expression: this is totally f---ed up.

Killing rare and beautiful tigers because they weren't purebred? Aside from their suspended sentence, the people involved should not be working at zoos. And as NYsteve wrote, if these "mongrel" tigers weren't good enough for the precious collection at the Magedburg Zoo, surely someone would have taken them.
19:32 June 17, 2010 by AirForceGuy
Germany was famous for it's 'ethnic purity' ideas and practices 70 years ago and it still exists in the minds of many Germans....
23:17 June 17, 2010 by anaverageguy
Could have sold them to a magician.

If, at a zoo, you're going to put a sign up that say's "Siberian Tiger" are you not obligated to have a Siberian Tiger in the enclosure? Or can you just have something that LOOKS like a Siberian tiger? Sort of like displaying a copy of the Mona Lisa and calling it THE Mona Lisa. What difference does it make? No one knows the difference or really cares. It was big, it was a cat.

23:29 June 17, 2010 by hmjddj
In regards to NYsteve's comments that any zoo would have taken the cubs, that unfortunately isn't true. Reputable zoos that are heavily involved in conservations efforts aren't interested in crossbreeds and adequate space for these large cats is at a premium. That isn't to say that they don't care or that they wouldn't consider it (although not for breeding), or at least help network to find a good home. But there is a HUGE amount of unwanted lions and tigers available, mostly brought on by private breeders for pets or facilities that just want to generate revenue. And this does make finding a home for a nonbreedable tiger very difficult.

In regards to AirForceGuy, this isn't a matter of a 'ethnic purity' prejudice. For wildlife conservation to work you need strong diverse breeding program to conserve any certain species, crossbreeding doesn't conserve a certain species. And mongrel tigers are a dime a dozen. In zoos you really can't give them away, more like you are begging someone to take them. It would be very easy to find unethical people or facilities to take them, perhaps euthanasia is better?

Having said all that....I think euthanizing the cubs was uncalled for. I think they should have taken responsiblity for their 'mistake' in the breeding program and stayed committed to keeping them or finding suitable homes for them no matter how long it took.
18:35 June 18, 2010 by SerenitySprings
Absolutely horrible, this magnificent animals (purebred or not) would have been easy to place in a number of facilities. With numbers less than 3000 total tigers in the wild today, how can you even think of disposing of them. If we continue to be a "disposable society" soon there will be no more and people will be happy to visit a zoo and see a Tiger purebred or not! We would have not only taken these cubs in, but would have provided them a safe permanent home for the rest of their lives. www.serenityspringswildlife.org There is an organization that hopes to unite zoos with sanctuaries and othere private facilities that you can become a member of, they would have placed the tigers in a wonderful facility. That is the United States Zoological Association, www.usza.us

There are other alternatives!
15:08 June 20, 2010 by danyang
I hope we can judge every guilty which is damaging the exist space of wild tigers.
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