By Clare Carswell
EDINBURGH Zoo bosses have come under fire from animal welfare campaigners after it was discovered that bosses ordered the destruction of two rare hogs.
The organisation agreed to kill piglets Sammi and Becca after being told by a worldwide breeding programme that they were “surplus to requirements”.
The birth of the pair of Red River Hogs was celebrated only last year and widely promoted as a zoo attraction.
No Sammi and Becca are already dead and there are continued fears for the lives of their three piglets born in June.
At that time, on their website the zoo announced there were, “delighted that for a second year our adult pair has produced piglets.”
A spokeswoman explained that the zoo works closely with the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP), who recommended the piglets be culled rather than rehomed.
She said: “Sammi and Becca were humanely euthanized 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 animals were not prevented from breeding if there was the possibility that their offspring may be culled because they wanted to keep the environment as natural as possible.
She also said that staff were informed of the proposed deaths and were given the opportunity to object.
One member of staff was reportedly “disgusted”.
The were quoted as saying: “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 often.
Other animal at Edinburgh Zoo have been killed due to breeding reasons but the numbers and frequency are unknown.
Various species, including the Gentoo, King penguins, European otters, warthogs and several types of monkey are part of the same programme.
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.