GRAPHIC: Copenhagen Zoo slaughters healthy giraffe in front of children

Zoo says it was following inbreeding recommendations

The Copenhagen Zoo is defending its decision to slaughter a healthy giraffe before a crowd, including children.

Marius, a two-year-old male giraffe, was put down using a bolt pistol and its meat fed to carnivores at the zoo. Visitors, including children, were invited to watch while the giraffe was dissected.

Marius' plight triggered a wave of online protests and renewed debate about the conditions of zoo animals. Before the giraffe was killed, an online petition to save it had received more than 20,000 signatures.

Spokesman Tobias Stenbaek Bro said the zoo, which has seven giraffes left, was recommended to put down Marius by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria because there were already a lot of giraffes with similar genes in the organization's breeding program.

The Amsterdam-based EAZA has 347 members, including many large zoos in European capitals, and works to conserve global biodiversity and to achieve the highest standards of care and breeding for animals.

Stenbaek Bro said EAZA membership isn't mandatory, but most responsible zoos are members of the organization.

Stenbaek Bro said Copenhagen Zoo turned down an offer from a private individual who wanted to buy Marius for 500,000 euros or $680,000 US. Stenbaek Bro said a significant part of EAZA membership is that the zoos don't own the animals themselves, but govern them, and therefore can't sell them to anyone outside the organization that don't follow the same set of rules.

He said that is important for the breeding programs to work.

When asked if other zoos had offered to take in Marius, the spokesman said yes but didn't specify numbers or which ones.

The zoo's scientific director Bengt Holst said the giraffe breeding program is similar to those used in deer parks, where red deer and fallow deer are culled to keep populations healthy.

"The most important factor must be that the animals are healthy physically and behaviourally and that they have a good life while they are living whether this life is long or short. Th

Holst said the zoo doesn't give the giraffes contraceptives because they have "a number of unwanted side effects on the internal organs" and the zoo believes parental care is an important part of the animal's natural is something that Copenhagen Zoo believes strongly in," he said in a statement.

The organization Animal Rights Sweden said the case simply highlights what they believe zoos do to animals regularly.

"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 organization said in a statement. "The only way to stop this is to not visit zoos."

It pointed out some zoos work to preserve species of animals, but never individuals.

When the cute animal babies that attract visitors grow up they are not as interesting anymore," it said.

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  1. lea posted on 02/09/2014 04:02 PM
    Zoos are crazy and carry out many inhumane and absurd practises every single day, all around the world, including here. We must stop the suffeirn fo these poor captive and work to free them from this abuse and exploitation.
  2. john posted on 02/11/2014 12:35 PM
    now this realy pisses me off . theres nothing worng with the giraffe leave it the f$##@#%$ck alone . i am not a fan of peta nor am i a member but this is stupid . the ones that desided to do this should be next .
  3. me posted on 03/26/2014 01:42 AM
    This is abhorring and disgusting!!!!!!!!!!!!! I went to a ZOO once when I was little and never went back.
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