A British zoo has put down a zebra after an image was posted online of its deformed hooves.
Urias, a male Hartmann’s mountain zebra, was put to sleep at Paignton Zoo in Devon after animal lovers reacted with anger to the picture posted on Facebook earlier this month.
In the image, the animal’s back hooves were slanted at a steep angle, affecting his stance, causing some online to accuse the zoo of neglect.
However, the zoo insists Urias didn’t feel any pain from his foot problem, which it says he had since he arrived there in 2012.
The zoo organised regular hoof trimmings for Urias, but these had to be done under an anaesthetic.
It said because his condition would deteriorate with age, the decision was taken to euthanise him.
Philip Knowling, communications manager at Paignton Zoo, said: “Sadly, male zebra Urias has had to be put to sleep.
“He came to us in 2012 with poor conformation - that’s to do with how they stand, their outline, bones and physique.
“His feet were trimmed regularly, but with short hooves he stood with his hind feet far further forward than normal, putting more weight on his heels and minimal weight on the toe. The pedal bone was rotated slightly, preventing a farrier from being able to trim the foot back to a perfectly normal shape.
“The good thing is, as odd as his feet looked, he was not in pain, and he lived a good life with us. However, he will only deteriorate with age, and you have to know when to do the right thing – as difficult as that is.
“While his feet looked wrong, detailed welfare assessments showed that he was not in pain.”
Mr Knowing added: “It is always sad to lose an animal, especially one into which everyone has put so much time, care and effort.
“Urias’s problem feet made him a challenge at times, but he will be greatly missed, especially by his keepers.”
He said the zoo is bringing in a female zebra to keep its other remaining zebra, female Taru, company.
It plans to bring in another male in the future, he said.