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October 31, 2014

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Copenhagen Zoo Under Fire For Baby Giraffe Is Slaughtered

Copenhagen Zoo Under Fire For Baby Giraffe Is Slaughtered

02/11/2014

A perfectly healthy 18-month-old giraffe was put down and fed to the lions at The Copenhagen Zoo, sparking the ire of the global community of animal lovers.

Giraffe Put Down At Copenhagen Zoo

The Copenhagen Zoo decided that “euthanizing” the giraffe, named Marius, was their only option to prevent inbreeding in their giraffe population. In an attempt to educate patrons of their zoo, they opted to make the giraffe’s death a public event.

First, a veterinarian shot Marius, who was distracted by his favorite snack – rye bread. An autopsy was then performed for those who’d gathered around for the spectacle. The grand finale featured Marius’ dismembered parts being distributed to the zoo’s big cats – lions, leopards and tigers.

Inbredding Threat Worried Zoologists

“Our giraffes are part of an international breeding program, which has a purpose of ensuring a sound and healthy population of giraffes," Copenhagen Zoo director of research and conservation, Bengt Holst explained to CNN. "It can only be done by matching the genetic composition of the various animals with the available space.... When giraffes breed as well as they do now, then you will inevitably run into so-called surplus problems now and then."

Holst added that The Copenhagen Zoo’s job was "not to make nature into a Disney World," but to offer interested parties a glimpse at "the real thing."

"Conservation is not always simple. It's not always clean," Lesley Dickie, executive director of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, further explained to CNN. "I'm afraid that when we have limited space in zoos — and it's limited because of problems in the wild, of course, and more and more animals need our help — then we sometimes have to make these really tough decisions."

A myriad of arguments have been made against what The Copenhagen Zoo has claimed was the best solution. Why couldn't they simply sterilize Marius? Why couldn’t Marius be transferred to another zoo, one of the many that were offering to take him? The Danish zoo claims that keeping a sterilized giraffe would take up space that could be occupied by a giraffe that could reproduce for them, according to CNN. As for transferring him to another zoo, they say no others met their standards.

For those that wondered why the baby giraffe had to be shot and not given a less violent lethal injection – if he had to be killed – they got an answer as well. A lethal injection would have ruined meat perfectly good for other zoo animals to consume.

While most of the outrage has come from those outside the field of zoology, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium director Jack Hanna joined the chorus. He called the public butchering of the animal, "the most abominable, insensitive, ridiculous thing I've ever heard of."

– Chelsea Regan

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Read more: The Copenhagen Zoo, Giraffes

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