Oh, deer! Outrage as Zurich zoo puts animals… on menu
“Is this not an April Fool’s joke?” local online news website Der Landbote quoted a visitor to the Langenberg wildlife park in Langnau am Albis, after visitor Suzanne M. saw deer from the park on the restaurant bill.
“I can hardly believe it, this surprised me very much,” she said.
The president of the local animal protection association, Ruth Widmer, said she was “shocked” at the practice and especially worried that so many young animals were killed.
The animal welfare organization "Four Paws" stressed that “many zoos and wildlife parks in Germany and Austria manage their livestock without killing."
Martin Kilchenmann, a spokesman for the park, confirmed that “guest of the Langenberg and Sihl restaurants can consume wildlife and livestock meat from the park's animals.”
However, he pointed out that the meat was “very ecological” and shows visitors the animals’ “natural cycle.” It also essential that “the consumer understands the way from animal to meat on the plate,” he said.
In 2012, 49 deer and 10 wild boar were shot dead in the park,
Kilchenmann said, Der Landbote reported.
Kilchenmann also claimed that visitors mainly “show goodwill and support our approach.”
About 100 animals are born in the park every year, but due to space restrictions managers say all of them can’t stay there. So, if an animal can’t be transferred elsewhere, they are killed and many are eaten in the restaurant, The Local reported.
On the restaurant’s menu are “deer cutlet" and "braised wild boar roast."
Neil D’Cruze, from World Animal Protection, told RT that the zoo could see the number of visitors to the park fall dramatically if the practice is not ended.
“It appears that the general public and visitors to the zoo are having the same reaction as World Animal Protection: we are appalled,” he said.
“People go to zoos because they love animals and they want to see them and to know that they are part of an active conservation program, and they are actually helping to protect wild animals in the world,” D’Cruze said. “I’m sure if they are aware that the animals actually ended up on their plates at lunchtime, then they’ll vote with their feet and won’t go to the zoo.”
Other European zoos have been known to serve their animals in restaurants, however. The Bruderhaus Deer Park in the German city of Winterthur serves “two to three red deer, fallow deer, and three to four wild boars” at its restaurant, Beat Kunz, a city forester and director of the Wildlife Park Association, told Der Landbote.
"If the euthanasia of bison or horses is necessary, they will be processed as food for wolves and lynx," she added.
The practice is also legal, as “it is allowed by general law to kill zoo animals such as deer or pigs and deliver the meat obtained in this way to restaurants,” said Andreas Rüttiman, of the Foundation for the Animal in the Law.
"There is in my opinion no reason why the slaughter of zoo animals should be reprehensible in ethical terms as the slaughter of pigs, cattle or other so-called farm animals," he added.