Citing the “pride’s natural structure and behaviour,” Copenhagen Zoo said on Tuesday that two old lions had been euthanised as part of a generational shift.
It added that the cubs were also put down because they were not old enough to fend for themselves and “would have been killed by the new male lion.”
Copenhagen zoo officials hope the new male and two females born in 2012 will form the nucleus of a new pride.
The deaths come after Copenhagen Zoo ignored pleas from international campaign groups last month and killed a healthy giraffe named Marius.
To prove they were certain of their actions, after shooitng Marius in the head, zoo staff dissected him in front of a public crowd, including children, and fed him to the zoo’s lions.