CZAAWE Resource Article

Survey of U.S.-based zoo veterinarians’ attitudes on population management euthanasia
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
Zoo Biology
Population management euthanasia, or culling, is a recognized tool for managing animal populations in human care. Previous research in zoos has shown that animal care staff attitudes about culling vary based on gender, job type, awareness of culling, the taxon in question for culling, and situational factors, but the attitudes of zoo veterinarians have not been studied previously, despite the fact that they are often tasked with carrying out euthanasia. We surveyed a sample of currently employed, zoo-based veterinarians in the United States on their knowledge and attitudes about population management euthanasia. Veterinarians demonstrated a high knowledge and awareness of population management euthanasia and were as supportive, if not more supportive, of it than previously surveyed groups. Similar to previous studies, attitudes about culling varied with the type of animal being considered for euthanasia. Female veterinarians and those veterinarians not aware of population management euthanasia events at their facilities were less supportive of the practice, again in agreement with previous studies of other zoo professionals. Veterinarians tended to be either more population-focused or individual-focused in their thinking about culling for population management compared to other zoo personnel, who often rated themselves as considering the needs of populations and individuals more equally. Our results suggest that veterinarians are important stakeholders in discussions about population management euthanasia in zoos and are likely to be supportive when information on rationale is presented.