Zoo culls 'surplus' hogs
BOSSES at Edinburgh Zoo have culled two Red River Hog piglets – because there is a "surplus" of the species.
• Sammi and Becca, pictured here a month after their birth, were put to sleep as part of a breeding programme
Despite successfully breeding a pair last August for the first time in the zoo's history, the organisation was ordered by a worldwide breeding programme to kill little Sammi and Becca as they were "surplus to requirement".
It is feared that three other Red River Hog piglets currently living at the attraction could also be put to sleep.
A spokeswoman said the zoo worked closely with the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP), who had recommended the babies were culled rather than rehomed.
• Was the Zoo right to cull its 'surplus' red river hog piglets?
Other animals have been killed for the same reason at Edinburgh Zoo, but it is not known how often or how many. Species including Gentoo and King penguins, European otters, warthogs and several types of monkey are maintained under the same programme.
When the piglets were born last year, the attraction boasted on its website that Sammi and Becca were the first of their species to be delivered since they adopted two adult hogs in 2004.
One staff member said: "We hope that this is the first of many contributions our Red River Hogs make to the breeding programme."
When three more baby piglets were born in June, the website did not refer to the previous pair but proudly stated that the zoo was "delighted that for a second year our adult pair has produced piglets".
A spokeswoman today told the Evening News: "Sammi and Becca were humanely euthanised after the EEP identified a surplus. If a species does not have breeding recommendation, the EEP will advise culling rather than rehoming. As a member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), it is imperative that the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland complies with the recommendations.
"The EEP base their advice on strengthening the genetic diversity of the species."
She explained that the zoo did not prevent animals from breeding even if there was a risk they would have to cull the offspring because they liked to keep their environment as natural as possible.
She added that all staff had been told of the reasons for the cull and were given the opportunity to object.
But one "disgusted" staff member said: "We didn't have any say about what they were going to do. I found it pretty disgusting and was rather upset. I don't think it happens very often."
Ross Minett, campaigns director at OneKind - previously Advocates for Animals - said: "We believe it is wrong for these healthy, harmless animals to be culled. Sadly, this sort of practice does take place in zoos, which will surprise many people who believe that zoos are all about keeping animals safe from harm.
"If the zoo is unable to care for these animals, they should have been offered to a wildlife sanctuary or an alternative home found for them."
An Edinburgh Zoo spokesman said: "It was discussed with the EEP that we would breed and cull if necessary."The three piglets that we currently have at the zoo will remain here as long as it is viable to do so. We have no plans to euthanise them at this time."
Around 15 years ago, the zoo culled a number of Oryx antelope for the same reason.
But Jody the lioness saw a happier outcome when she contracted FSE, the feline version of BSE, after the Evening News campaigned to save her.
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