Auckland Zoo’s last two lions, Kura and Amira, were euthanased this week.
The deaths of these two lions should be a wake-up call for anyone who still harbours the illusion that zoos serve any purpose beyond incarcerating intelligent animals and sentencing them to a lifetime of frustration.
Lions, like all animals – humans included – long to be free. Even the best zoos cannot begin to replicate their natural habitats or give them the autonomy to make choices about relationships – or anything else for that matter.
Had Amira been among a pride of lions, where she belonged, her life would not have had to be cut short when her mother had passed away as she would have an entire community, including a family of her own, to help her overcome her grief.
It’s time we stopped treating animals as living exhibits, but rather as the sensitive individuals they are, and we can start by making the choice today never again to visit a zoo or any other institution that incarcerates animals for human amusement.
And if Auckland Zoo genuinely cared about these lions the way they claim to, then they will make them the last ones to suffer in the confines of their four walls and choose to support projects that actually protect animals in their native habitats instead. DESMOND BELLAMY