(JTA) — A Danish zoo’s slaying of healthy animals proves that animal welfare concerns are a false justification for Denmark’s recent ban on ritual slaughter, a prominent European rabbi charged.
Citing the need to make room for new animals and prevent inbreeding, the Copenhagen Zoo killed four healthy lions earlier this week and a healthy giraffe last month.
The killings, which prompted an international outcry, make it “more apparent that this [shechitah ban] is less about animal welfare, and much more about the politics of immigration and integration,” Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said in a statement on Thursday.
Denmark’s agriculture minister, Dan Jorgensen, issued a new regulation last month making it illegal to slaughter animals without stunning, posing a problem for Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter. He said the ban owed to animal welfare considerations.
Goldschmidt suggested that’s false.
“Since there is little or no religious slaughter in Denmark today, we can only assume that the ban represents a fig leaf intended to cover the country’s woeful record on animal welfare,” he said.
Last month the Copenhagen Zoo made headlines around the world when it killed an 18-month-old healthy giraffe and then publicly fed his flesh to the lion pack. The affair has refocused attention on the traditional whale hunt performed in Denmark’s Faroe Islands, where each year hunters maneuver hundreds of pilot whales to beach themselves, then butcher them in shallow lagoons.
“It seems so clear that this is a country with a great deal of work to do in this area” of animal welfare, Goldschmidt said, “yet all they have succeeded in doing thus far is offending faith communities.”