Why do cats kill their own baby

Drama in the Leipzig Zoo: Lioness Eats Her Babies: Why Animals Kill Their Young

Even two days later, there were no answers at the Leipzig Zoo. The zoo management doesn't want to say anything more about the incident. Press spokeswoman Maria Saegebarth does not even try to make explanations. "The fact is that this happens in animals."

And yet what happened in Leipzig remains a sad story. Because the zoo was very happy that after 15 years the lions were finally born again. And that Kigali, the young lioness, does her job well. But three days after birth, the two young animals are dead - eaten by their own mother while they are grooming.

Joachim Scholz teaches at the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main, and has been lecturing on lions for 20 years. He also says: "It can always happen that lion mothers eat their children." Kigali may have noticed that something is wrong with their offspring. In this case, their smell changes what the mother perceives. In this way, she decides whether the effort of raising the animal is worthwhile.

Drama in the Leipzig Zoo: Domestic cats also eat their young

Scholz tells of the case of a sloth bear in a Washington zoo who fought over her offspring a few years ago. The keepers managed to save one of the boys from the litter. It turned out to be suffering from an infection. In these cases, says Scholz, the mother has a balancing program: Is it worth the energy to raise the offspring? “If not, the mother recycles the energy invested in the offspring by eating them up. Nature is economical. ”At the same time, there is also the possibility that the lioness in the Leipzig zoo was too inexperienced. “The first throw is for practicing,” says Scholz.

It is impossible to say how often mothers are dangerous for their children. Infanticide is widespread in the animal kingdom. In lions and bears, monkeys, rodents and birds. Reports from zoos keep cropping up. From Jerusalem, for example, where tigress Chana killed her two five-week-old babies in 2014. Or from the Nuremberg zoo, where there was no trace of two polar bear cubs in 2008 - and it was clear that they had fallen victim to mother Vilma. Such cases, says Scholz, also exist in domestic cats. "That's rare, but it does happen."