*****Dr Pieter Kat, who runs Kent-based charity Lion Aid, said most zoos have used a system of international stud books for many years, which means there should be “no reason” they should end up with inbred animals.
He added that “there is no reason why, if you suspect inbreeding, you should breed from that animal”.
“I would question why Longleat felt the need to breed lions… breeding is entirely preventable through the use of a contraceptive pill and it all comes down to proper zoo management,” he said.
“Zoos are under enormous pressure to produce babies… they are a big attraction for the public and zoos want to have lots of babies.”
Will Travers, President of the Born Free Foundation, said: “We were saddened and concerned to hear of the destruction of six lions at Longleat.
“If uncontrolled breeding has contributed to the deaths of these lions, then Longleat must be held to account.”