Since a study published by Freedom for Animals in 2003 placed the number of “surplus” animals in European zoos at around 7,500 at any one time, the zoo industry has refused to come clean on the true numbers of animals deemed useless for their purposes.

Confirmed: European zoos kill thousands of animals each year.

In light of the callous killing of a healthy young giraffe last weekend, some European and US zoo associations have still categorically refused to tell concerned members of the public how many animals are deliberately killed in their institutions. However, in a story written by a Press Association journalist and published in the global press yesterday, one member of the zoo community, David Williams Mitchell, spokesman of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), appears to have broken ranks with his colleagues, going on record to say that an average zoo in EAZA’s 347-member organisation annually kills about five large mammals, which adds up to 1,735.

As there are estimated to be around 2,000 zoos in Europe, this figure can be extrapolated to an estimate of as many as 10,000 large mammals killed each year in European zoos alone.

Said Liz Tyson, Former Freedom for Animals Director:

“So many people trust that zoos have the animals’ best interests at heart and will be shocked to find that thousands of mammals may be deliberately killed by these institutions in Europe every year. The zoo industry has attempted to play down this killing by couching it in terms of conservation of endangered species but we urge caring members of the public to look beyond the hype and think of the animals."

Bred to live a life in captivity and killed when deemed no longer useful, this is not a compassionate industry. The sooner people stop supporting zoos, and start supporting true conservation efforts where animals are protected in their natural habitat, the better.

This is not a compassionate industry. Please do not visit the zoo.

Freedom for Animals has worked for many years to expose the reality of the zoo industry and has published a number of important research projects on the subject of captivity and the zoo industry more generally. This work includes a ground-breaking study published in 2012 which highlighted the high percentage of zoos failing to meet even minimum legal standards in England, a critique of the welfare provision for birds in  zoos published in 2013 and a detailed investigation into public aquaria in 2004.

In addition, Freedom for Animals has conducted a large number of undercover investigations into major UK zoos, leading to revelations of tigers being bred for a circus owner by Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm near Bristol, big cats being kept in dilapidated and cramped enclosures at Woburn Safari Park, the culling of animals at Knowsley Safari Park, disease at a petting zoo and lion cubs from West Midland Safari Park being sent to a Japanese circus.