The platform for Belgium's international community

Search form

menu menu
  • Daily & Weekly newsletters
  • Buy & download The Bulletin
  • Comment on our articles

Animal welfare minister criticises shooting of lion at Planckendael

02:19 25/06/2018

Flemish animal welfare minister Ben Weyts has delivered sharp criticism in response to Planckendael animal park’s decision to shoot a lion that had escaped from its enclosure. The female lion was roaming the park after it escaped at about 9.30 on Thursday morning.

There were few visitors in the park, located in Mechelen, at the time as it doesn’t open to the general public until 10.00. Only annual pass holders can enter the park before that time.

Planckendael staff tried to use a tranquiliser gun to render the two-year-old lion, called Rani, unconscious. But two attempts didn’t work and so the police shot the lion dead.

“When the tranquiliser attempts didn’t work, the crisis team make the decision to neutralise the animal,” said Planckendael in a statement. “This is what the police advised because they were concerned about the safety of a few visitors who were in a train car near where the lion was roaming. Their safety could no longer be guaranteed.”

The train car is a decorative element in the park, and four adults had taken cover inside it. The other 11 visitors that were in the park at the time of the lion’s escape had been evacuated.

Weyts, however, called the action “horrible and indefensible”. He has requested an investigation into the actions of the police.

“I get that it is difficult to weigh safety risks, but I do not understand why there were not more attempts made to tranquilise the animal,” said Weyts. “It was a decision by the police and the police alone. It goes without saying that the escape itself must be investigated, but to me it’s equally important to investigate the decision to kill the animal.”

Animal rights group Gaia agrees. “According to Planckendael, the visitors and staff were never in any danger, so there was no risk to human safety,” said Gaia director Michel Vandenbosch, “Were the police acting according to a cowboy mentality or does Planckendael really not have an emergency plan to ensure that an escaped animal doesn’t have to be killed?”

Photo: A recent photo of Rani ©Courtesy VRT

Written by Flanders Today

Comments

Anon3

Very sad and tragic. Does speak legions about the mentality of the police. Expediency first and foremost. Either look the other way and let criminals/terrorists get away or take this sort of action.

Jun 25, 2018 12:12
michele

First of all animals should not be enclosed and then they are shot dead when they instinctively seek a breath of fresh air?
What's more it was just two years old.
A mindless and cruel decision.
Do away with captivity - leave poor, defenceless creatures where they belong - in the wild. The need for zoos is outdated..

Jun 27, 2018 15:22
Anonymous

Totally unnecessary. More tranquilisers should have been used. Preventative measures and plans should have already been in place to tackle these problems in a more suitable way without killing the lion. Lions are becoming an endangered species, so we have to protect them and NOT kill them.

Jun 27, 2018 22:24
CC_R

Surely they could have evacuated those people by using a vechile and then encouraged the poor nesst back into its enclosure with food. This is why on the whole i looath Zoos thei poor animal did noth8ng wrong and they kill ot

Jul 2, 2018 09:27
michele

A zoo animal is fed. So, firstly, it is not looking for food and consequently will not kill anyone. Secondly, it is afraid of people so for that reason will not attack either. This information comes directly from the mouth of a vet.

I loathe zoos too (or any enclosures for animals - the planet is their home without barriers).

Jul 5, 2018 10:13