A zoo's four lions are now dead Monday after they decided to euthanize the animals to make room for a different male lion. Copenhagen Zoo had previously come under fire for shooting one of their giraffes, Marius, in line with international breeding standards, several weeks ago.
The zoo killed the four lions because of the "pride's natural structure and behavior," they said Tuesday. Two young 10-month-old cubs were put down along with their parents, a "very old" breeding pair, to make room for a new 3-year-old male lion, according to Agence France-Presse.
"The zoo has had to euthanize the two old lions and two young lions who were not old enough to fend for themselves," the zoo said in a statement. They said the cubs "anyway would have been killed by the new male lion as soon as he got the chance."
To see pictures of the lions and giraffe, click here.
The new male, who they received from Denmark's Givskud Zoo, will become the center of the new pride along with Copenhagen Zoo's two 18-month-old lionesses.
"He is a beautiful young male and I am certain he will be an impressive ambassador for his species," zoo chief Steffen Straede told AFP. They plan on making him "the foundation of the zoo's next lion era."
The lions were euthanized privately, unlike Marius the 2-year-old giraffe, who was publicly shot last month while reaching for a piece of rye bread. Copenhagen Zoo workers then sliced up parts of the giraffe in front of adults and children for a lesson on anatomy before publicly feeding him to their lions, tigers and leopards.
Copenhagen Zoo received widespread backlash after the death of Marius, especially since other zoos and sanctuaries in Europe had offered to take him. Zoo officials explained that the giraffe was part of an international breeding program and couldn't be allowed to live, but it did little to assuage public anger.
The outrage was so severe that another Denmark zoo that had plans to euthanize a male giraffe, Jyllands Park Zoo, decided against it.
However, Copenhagen Zoo's decisions on the lions and Marius the giraffe are in line with the policy of The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, which oversees 345 institutions.
"While EAZA regrets the death of the animals in question, we recognize the right of the Copenhagen Zoo to humanely cull them in line with their policies," they said in a statement.