Tigers and lions considered for euthanisation after Slovak farmer dies

Incident happened on May 16.

Ranč Pri Žiline.Ranč Pri Žiline. (Source: Facebook/Žilina Region Police)

Up to 16 lions and tigers may be euthanised after these big cats killed a farmer in Kysucké Nové Mesto, northern Slovakia, on Tuesday.

Shortly after parts of his body were discovered in one of the animal enclosures, the police killed one of the felines and a vet euthanised another, the TASR news agency wrote. A lion and a lionness are said to have been killed.

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The Ranč Pri Žiline farm owner had obtained permission to run a farm with these wild animals. The permit expired in 2019, and had not been extended by the state authorities since then.

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Death or sale

Authorities are now deciding what will happen to the remaining felines. They may be sold to other facilities abroad or in Slovakia. Euthanasia also remains an option.

Agriculture Minister Jozef Bíreš has not ruled out the latter.

“If such a tragic situation happens, the carnivorous instinct can usually repeat at different times,” he said.

Though the farmer failed to create a suitable environment for the wild cats, the minister has claimed that the regional branch of the State Veterinary and Food Administration also neglected its obligations.

The last inspection on the farm took place in 2021. Prior to that, the administration fined the farmer €2,000, the Aktuality.sk news website wrote.

Before his appointment to the ministerial job earlier this week, Bíreš was the head of the administration.

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The Environment Inspectorate also carried out several inspections on the farm, from 2014 until 2020. No violations of the CITES treaty have been discovered, which protects endangered species of animals and plants from threats of international trade, TASR wrote. The inspectorate fined the farmer for the unlawful use of the term “zoo” in 2014.

Big cats only in selected facilities

The possession and the sale of big felines has not been not allowed in Slovakia since March 2022, but exceptions apply to zoos and rehabilitation stations with valid permits.

“The amendment to the law allows private breeders of big cats to keep them [until they die]. They cannot offer them for sale within Slovakia, and they cannot provide them for reproduction,” added the inspectorate.

MEP Martin Hojsík and the Animal Ombudsman initiative are demanding that the authorities cancel the order to kill 16 felines, if any have been issued, arguing that it is the state, not the animals, that has failed in this case.

“It's unimaginable that the body that is supposed to protect animals, the State Veterinary and Food Administration, is now threatening to euthanise 16 big cats unless it manages to find a new home for them,” said the initiative.

Hojsík noted that animal organisations have been pointing to the farm in question for years, but the state authorities have not acted.

The State Veterinary and Food Administration is currently investigating why the farm was not shut down despite no valid permission for its operation.

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