10th March 2023

Awful news from Copenhagen Zoo has been released this week, regarding the devastating and untimely death of a polar bear cub held captive within the zoo’s ‘Arctic Circle’ enclosure. It has been reported in the press that on Tuesday 7th March, the female cub broke a metal barrier that enabled her to reach, and pry open, a nearby electrical cable box. As a result she was able to reach the enclosed wires and was tragically electrocuted. 

The fact that the animals were so close to such dangerous equipment, and that the metal fencing was not of an appropriate strength to prevent escapes, shows a clear negligence from Copenhagen Zoo and a failure to protect the animals imprisoned there from unnecessary suffering and risk. 

Sadly, this is not the first time Copenhagen Zoo has been in the press regarding their treatment of animals. Their lack of enclosure safety has previously come into question when, in October 2016, the zoo’s resident duiker antelope was killed by a fox who was able to enter their enclosure and sadly take their life. This was an avoidable disaster that, at the time, should have led to an increased awareness of the risks surrounding each enclosure and what actions needed to be put in place to increase the safety of animals who are unable to escape the dangers of their forced environment. 

Furthermore, in February 2014, Marius, a healthy giraffe housed at the zoo was killed as a direct result of his genetic ‘unsuitability’ for further captive breeding, citing that his “genes were over-represented in the captive population” due to the zoos inclusion in the close-knit European Endangered Species Programme (EEP). Copenhagen zoo refused to rehome Marius to other locations that had offered support and instead killed him, before carrying out a live autopsy on national television in front of impressionable children, and feeding his body to the resident lions. Such a disgraceful lack of respect was shown to Marius by the zoo, and they failed to consider the incredible individual he was in his own right. Zoos continuously place profit over lives, and his death really highlighted that sad reality.

The Copenhagen Zoo's inclusion in EEP and their determination to breed animals for profit, has led to the deaths of many animals. In 2018, a female Amur tiger was killed by the resident male, Miron, after his introduction to the enclosure three weeks previous as part of EEP. Miron was later moved to Knowsley Safari Park where, in 2022, he tragically killed Sinda in another forced breeding attempt by the UK zoo. Healthy animals including four lions (2014) and three wolves (2020) were also killed by Copenhagen Zoo. The lions were killed to make way for a new male lion that would be used for breeding purposes, and the wolves were killed to make way for a children's playground and "visitor satisfaction".

Further controversy was also centred around the ‘Arctic Circle’ enclosure back in 2016, when reports surfaced surrounding the obvious stereotypies being displayed by the polar bears held captive due to the unnatural and forced coupling of the animals as part of EEP. The female was reportedly swimming and pacing back and forth due to feeling such an increased pressure to avoid the male bear she was being forcibly imprisoned in close confinement with. And a year previous to that, in 2015, a man was able to climb the fence and fall seven metres straight into the polar bear enclosure. He was subsequently grabbed and held by the male bear housed there, until the bear was shot with rubber bullets by keepers to put a stop to the interaction. In 2012, a man died after entering the tiger's enclosure at Copenhagen Zoo.      

Copenhagen Zoo has therefore had regular and significant health and safety and animal welfare issues, and as a result of those failings, animals have suffered and in some cases died, while members of the public have also been put at risk. 

Freedom for Animals is committed to sharing the truth about zoos, and fighting for the lives of all animals and their right to freedom. Polar bears and all animals deserve to be in the wild where they belong. It is time to Say No To Zoos!