Ethiopian Zoo Poisons Lion Cubs It Can’t Afford

Les Neuhaus, AP, Nov. 22, 2006

Two rare lion cubs rest at the Lion Zoo in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The zoo, which says it is cash-strapped, has been poisoning lion cubs and selling the corpses to be stuffed.

The dead cubs are sold to taxidermists for $170 each to be stuffed and sold as decorations, said Muhedin Abdulaziz, the administrator at the old imperial Lion Zoo in the capital, Addis Ababa.

“These animals are the pride of our country. We need to do something about this. But our only alternative right now is to send them to the taxidermist,” Abdulaziz said.

Ethiopia’s lions, famous for their black manes, are the country’s national symbol and adorn statues and the local currency.

Wildlife experts estimate that only 1,000 Ethiopian lions, which are smaller than other lions, remain in the wild. Despite a recent crackdown, hunters also kill the animals for their skins, which can fetch $1,000.

Abdulaziz said it costs around $6,000 a month to run the zoo, but it only receives $5,000 in revenues from entrance fees. He added that the poisoning has been going on at least since he arrived two years ago; the number of cubs that have been killed was not immediately clear.

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