top of page




Zoos pose danger not just to the animals, but to the people who visit them.


Incidents of animals dying in captivity well before their prime are all too common.


There are many examples of zoos around the world with horribly high animal death rates; like Indonesia’s largest zoo, where thousands of animals died in only a matter of a few years.


There’s also the Copenhagen zoo, which recently shot and killed a perfectly healthy baby giraffe and dissected it in front of a crowd of horrified children. The giraffe was then fed to lions in front of zoo visitors.

A few weeks later the zoo decided to kill those lions (a male and female lion and their two cubs) in the name of genetic purity and conservation.


A recent polar death at a German Zoo is also worth noting. The polar bear died after ingesting a woman’s coat and purse that were dropped into his enclosure.


Some Zoos in the US do not have a much better track record.


At the Cleveland Zoo, a kangaroo and multiple other animals were killed after being struck by a train running through their enclosure.


At the Denver Zoo, two bears that had fought each other over a dozen times were not separated, and ended up killing one another.


At the Toledo Zoo, a bear died of starvation after being locked up without food or water to hibernate; zoo employees did not know that her species does not hibernate.


Many animal deaths in zoos have been the result of the animal escaping and being shot and killed by zoo workers or police.

Zoo ethics, are zoos good or bad, circus animal abuse, hunting ranches, animal captivity

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington D.C. is one of the oldest and most respected zoos in the US, yet dozens of their animals have died in recent years; many of the incidents thought to be the result of neglect.

The following are just a few examples:


  • A giraffe choked to death while being anesthetized for hoof-trimming.

  • A macaque died after not urinating for four days after a surgery that accidentally perforated its urinary duct, resulting in urine accumulation in the abdominal cavity instead of the bladder.

  • An orangutan was euthanized after being misdiagnosed with cancer.

  • An elephant with tuberculosis was euthanized due to health complications. The zoo had not performed the federally required annual TB test on the elephant in almost two years.

  • A Micronesian kingfisher (a type of rare bird) was rushed to the veterinary hospital in respiratory distress where it was force-fed a baby mouse which became lodged in its throat, killing the bird.

  • A lion was killed after receiving a lethal double dose of anesthesia for a physical exam to check on a limp.

  • A bobcat was euthanized for suspected kidney failure after being observed eating less and having decreased activity. Pathology revealed that the animal’s kidneys were fine; the animal could not walk simply because her claws had grown into her paw pads.

  • Two red pandas died after eating rat poison that was spread in their enclosure.

  • A Lesser Kudu (a type of antelope) ran head-on into its enclosure’s fence, breaking its neck.



Zoo ethics, are zoos good or bad, circus animal abuse, hunting ranches, animal captivity

Animals are not the only ones in danger at zoos.


The media usually only briefly covers stories about human injuries and death, but they occur quite frequently.


Recent incidents include:

  • In 2007 a Siberian tiger escaped and killed a 17-year-old boy at The San Francisco Zoo.

  • In 2012 a two-year-old boy was killed by African wild dogs after being balanced by his mother on the enclosure railing and falling in at the Pittsburg Zoo.

  • In 2002 a zoo keeper’s arm was torn off by a lion at Busch Gardens in Florida.

  • In 2001 a zoo keeper was intentionally trampled to death by an elephant at the London Zoo.

  • The following year at the Pittsburg Zoo a zookeeper was crushed and killed by an elephant.

  • In 2011 at the Knoxville Zoo a trainer was killed, crushed between an elephant and its enclosure wall.

  • In 2007 a zoo keeper was mauled and killed by a jaguar at the Denver Zoo.

  • In 1995 a mentally ill woman was killed after sneaking into the lion enclosure of the National Zoo.  


Danger to Animals and People

bottom of page