Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Ethiopia zoo killing lions to save cost

ADDIS ABABA: A major zoo in Ethiopia is poisoning rare lion cubs and selling the corpses to be stuffed because it doesn't have enough money to care for the animals, which are the national symbol, the zoo's administrator said on Wednesday.

"These animals are the pride of our country,'" Muhedin Abdulaziz of the Lion Zoo said. "But our only alternative right now is to send them to the taxidermist.

" Ethiopia's lions, famous for their black manes, 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.

The Lion Zoo has poisoned six cubs so far this year, Abdulaziz said. He added that the poisoning has been going on at least since he arrived two years ago; the total number of cubs killed was not clear. Federal wildlife officials monitor the poisoning, which is painless, according to Abdulaziz.

The federal officials did not immediately return calls for comment. The Lion Zoo is a popular attraction in Ethiopia, although international wildlife organisations have expressed concern about its ramshackle facilities. Said American radio Afaan Oromo Today.


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