Danish Zoo Kills Young Healthy Giraffe While Crowds Watch

Aedan Juvet
Staff Writer

A zoo in Denmark has sparked international debate after the news broke that Marius, an 18-month-old giraffe in Denmark (pictured), was killed and then dissected in front of crowds of people, including children. The Copenhagen Zoo, which was home to Marius, made the decision to end the giraffe’s life in an attempt to avoid inbreeding, as there are already many giraffes with similar genes to Marius’ on the international breeding program.

According to Yahoo News, the poor animal, after being killed, skinned and dissected, was fed to multiple lions at the zoo whilst visitors looked on. Zoo spokesman Tobias Stenbaek Bro told The Associated Press, “I’m actually proud because I think we have given children a huge understanding of the anatomy of a giraffe that they wouldn’t have had from watching a giraffe in a photo.”

The zoo’s scientific director Bengt Holst also attempted to explain the actions and discussed the international breeding program:

“The purpose of the breeding program is to have as healthy a population as possible, not only now, but in the future. As this giraffe’s genes are over-represented in the breeding program, the European Breeding Programme for Giraffes has agreed that Copenhagen Zoo euthanize him.”

KELD NAVNTOFT/AFP / Getty Images
Courtesy of KELD NAVNTOFT/AFP / Getty Images

What makes Marius’ story even more heart wrenching is the fact that more than 20,000 signed an online petition in an attempt to save him. Other zoos offered to take him in, and Yahoo reported that one person desperately tried to save the giraffe, offering roughly 500,000 Euros to stop the killing.

One offer for Marius came from The Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Britain, which currently houses Marius’ brother. You’d think this was the ideal place for Marius, right? That’s not how Holst saw things; he said the park should use its available space for a more “genetically valuable giraffe”.

Buzzfeed reported that a wildlife park in the Netherlands made a last gasp offer for the giraffe that was also rejected. Robert Krijuff, director of the Dutch park, said in a statement,“I can’t believe it. We offered to save his life. Zoos need to change the way they do business.”

The incident has caused many to question just what goes on in zoos. Animal Rights Sweden made a statement on the subject:

“It is no secret that animals are killed when there is no longer space, or if the animals don’t have genes that are interesting enough, the only way to stop this is to not visit zoos. When the cute animal babies that attract visitors grow up, they are not as interesting anymore.”

The story has left many people feeling angry, and many have voiced complaints that the execution and consequent dissection were carried out in front of children. Many are also angry that the many attempts to provide alternative arrangements for the giraffe were heartlessly declined. Regardless of the zoo’s justifications, a public execution is, in my opinion, never acceptable and things like this need to be prevented in the future for the sake of animals, and also for those who love and care for them.

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