Feeing surplus deer to big cats in zoos?

The encounter between the doe and the lions at the National Zoo has caused me to wonder:

What are the practical and ethical problems with using the excess deer population ,common to many suburbs, to feed big cats in zoos?

Big cats are effectively made to stalk and kill large herbivores, and deer are effectively made to be hunted by apex predators.

Would it be wrong, specifically, to catch a deer, turn it loose in a lion’s habitat, and let them do what millions of years of evolution have designed them to do?

Would it be cost prohibitive?

Would it be too much like bear baiting if people were allowed to watch?

Since the deer can’t really escape a fenced in enclosure, they wouldn’t really have a fair chance to escape. Is this a problem?

What if the deer were given an escape route/hatch which would allow it to get away if it were quick enough/nimble enough/strong enough? Sometimes the lion would get dinner, and sometimes not.

Not being facetious here. Just curious.

**Feeding **surplus deer to big cats in zoos. :smack:

capturing deer is not easy for people or the deer. the deer is usually injured.

an escape route to make it fair for the deer would also be an escape route for the lion.

Is it cruel to put an injured deer in the lion habitat? That does certainly mimic the natural hunting process where the predators take the injured and sick animals from the herd.

An escape route could be, for example, a cage or enclosure that was big enough for deer to enter, but too small for lions.

A much better use would be to do a controlled cull and donate the kill to soup kitchens and food banks.

Then the deer would spend all its time hiding in the enclosure, scared as hell, until it starved to death. That would be fun for the kids to watch.

Nah, there doesn’t need to be an escape route and there doesn’t need to be “fairness.” Deer are prey and lions are predators. They should just let the big pussa hunt and kill its meal the way nature intended.

I believe that my local zoo is open 365 days a year, and I don’t think that watching a deer or other prey animal getting stalked and killed would be a big draw for most people. I’m sure some people would enjoy it, but I think it would be just a little too real for most of us. There’s no guarantee that the hunt and kill would take place when the zoo’s not open to the public, because the big cats don’t hunt if they’re not particularly hungry at the moment.

From what I understand, the zoo uses a “carnivore diet” for many, perhaps most, carnivores in its care. It consists of low quality beef and such, things that wouldn’t be allowed to be sold to humans. The whole animal gets ground up, bones, hooves, horns, and all, and fed to the carnivores. I learned this by talking to a woman who was feeding the birds at the zoo. The birds are in a huge walk-in enclosure, where visitors can get pretty close to them, and also get shat upon, but in exchange one will sometimes see a peacock spread its magnificent train. And those peacocks do know that they make an impression on the humans as well as the peahens.

I don’t know what the solution for excess suburban deer population is, but live capture really isn’t a good option.

Another problem would be if you get the not-accustomed-to-fighting-large-game big cats in with a buck deer, and the deer gets in a lucky shot and gores the big cat. This means major vet time, protests from area residents/PETA, and serious expenses for the zoo on top of their “let’s try to transport panicky deer to make for a live dinner” costs.

I saw that video. It seemed to me that the lioness wasn’t really into chasing that deer. Probably too much work compared to just waiting for regular feeding time.

But yeah, what Ferret Herder said. It’s all fun and games until a doe gets one lucky kick in from one of her hooves. Life in the wild is not all it’s cracked up to be sometimes.

Yeah, it would probably be better to stick to does, and young bucks, for population control and for the big cat’s safety.

Protests would be inevitable, I’d think, not so much from animal rights groups as from the general public who don’t like the idea of Bambi being ripped apart by vicious carnivores.

I wonder if it could work at a park like Lion Country Safari?

Yeah, it’s not exactly fair when a mountain lion encounters a deer weakened by winter deprivation. The deer is slower and less wary than it otherwise would be, and the cougar gets lunch.

To the extent that big cats can be said to experience pleasure in a human sense, a successful hunt has got to be one of their most pleasurable experiences.

If big cats are anything like housecats, they would enjoy hunting even when their meals are served up for them every day.

There is a reason all animals in the zoo undergo quarantine. To keep disease away. Nobody sees the quarantine, but every single animal in the zoo had to spent time in quarantine and be thoroughly checked before being allowed in the exhibit. Animals brought from outside, that is.

Some zoos have enough problems with the feral cats causing disease and losses in their exhibits, serving as vectors and carriers… wild live deer would be no exception, and would increase the problem.

But you could keep the deer interned long enough to be sure they weren’t sick.

They’d be Deers of Internment.

smacks CalMeacham

Ethically, I have no problem with it. Practically, its a non-starter.

The public’s perception of a zoo’s mission is to provide a pleasant and physically & emotionally safe place to take kids on sunny afternoons.

Nothing about a lion killing Bambi who’s trapped in a small enclosure fits that mission.

The reality of a zoo’s mission (conservation) and all the zoo procedures noted above are other completely valid practical objections. But in comparison, they are minor considerations.

Utterly violating your customer’s expectations is not good for your longevity as a business, and even moreso for one that’s essentially a politically-funded charity.
Disney could probably produce a hell of a series of XXX videos & sell them for premuim prices. But what would happen to their total revenue & public image?

Nice chuckle, but I’m sure that would be still more expensive than feeding dead stuff and big cat chow to them.

I think it would be prohibitively expensive. To live-capture a deer, transport it back to the zoo, and inspect it for disease before introducing it to the cat enclosure would likely be far more expensive than buying an equivalent amount of crap-grade meat from the nearest slaughterhouse.

As regards the “fairness” of putting a deer into an enclosure with a predator, that’s pretty much irrelevant. Mother Nature is not “fair,” does not recognize the meaning of the word. I’ve seen countless documentaries in which a predator takes down the juvenile offspring of a prey animal. Nothing “fair” about that. Is the prey animal somehow less panicked when he’s being killed after a straight-line run across the prairie, than when he’s being killed after doing five laps in a half-acre enclosure? Does it hurt less? Fact is, Mother Nature is a Bitch; there’s certainly no need for human beans to cause more suffering to wild animals than they would endure on their own, but I don’t feel that hand-delivering them to big cats in a cage causes them any more suffering than they would endure out in the wild. Out there, they get chased by wolves and killed just as quickly, or else they die a slow, lingering, painful death from starvation and disease; take your pick.

And then of course the whole thing would turn off the vast majority of the zoo’s paying customers. A few folks would relish the opportunity to witness a “hunt” in person, but most folks (and their kids) would stay away, and there would be serious protests from some folks with misguided notions of “fair” and “cruelty” and from other folks who object to the whole concept of zoos.

It’s worth noting that the lions did not kill this deer; the National Zoo vet staff did.

They said the deer was too badly hurt to be saved with vet care, but given the standard of care prevailing at the National Zoo’s facilities (they’ve lost three animals in the last month, two of them during what were described as “routine” procedures), the staff may not use the same criteria for “too badly hurt to be saved” that the rest of us would. Maybe she just needed a band-aid.

“Euthanizing” animals seems to be their forte, anyway.

They already do the live feeding thing in China and other countries. Westerners piss their pants when they watch the videos.
Lions & donkeys

Tiger & ox

Wild animals are full of parasites. Normally this is an not an issue as wild animals usually have somewhat sort lives, but if you’re trying to keep lions healthy as long as possible a truly wild food supply is probably not the best idea.

That’s a zoo? :dubious:

ETA: And isn’t the second one not a zoo sanctioned thing but just dumbass American soldiers?

In any case in those last two ones, I wish they would feed the stupid assholes making the videos to the tigers/lions.