Outcries on social media and an online petition that drew
more than 27,000 signatures failed to save a healthy young
giraffe killed on Sunday in accordance with the Copenhagen
Zoo's in-breeding policy.
The zoo said it killed the 18-month-old male giraffe named
Marius and fed him to lions and other zoo animals to keep the
giraffe population "genetically sound".
Bengt Holst, scientific director at the Danish zoo, told the
BBC that giraffes had to be selected to make sure the best
genes were passed down, ensuring long-term survival.
He said it was a zoo's responsibility to manage animal
populations to ensure they remained healthy, adding that 20
to 30 animals are put down at Copenhagen Zoo in a typical
"Giraffes today breed very well, and when they do you have to
choose and make sure the ones you keep are the ones with the
best genes," Holst told the BBC.
Marius was killed by a bolt gun instead of a lethal
injection, which would have contaminated the meat, The
Copenhagen Postreported. Most of the corpse was fed to zoo
animals. Part of his carcass was designated for scientific
research. Visitors to the zoo on Sunday were even invited to
attend the autopsy.
Maria Evans, who created the online petition, told the Post
that the zoo produced Marius, so it was the zoo's
responsibility to find him a home. "They must not be allowed
to take the easy option," Evans said.
Stine Jensen, from Denmark's Organisation Against the
Suffering of Animals, told the BBC the group's offer of help,
along with many others from across Europe, was turned down.
Animal rights campaigners have described the move as barbaric
and have accused the zoo of being unethical. The director of
a wildlife park in the Netherlands, Robert Krijuff, whose
last-minute offer of a place was also rejected, said: "I
can't believe it. We offered to save his life. Zoos need to
change the way they do business."
England's Yorkshire Wildlife Park said it also made an
unsuccessful bid to save Marius, adding that it was "is
saddened to hear reports from Copenhagen that 18-month-old
giraffe Marius has been euthanized."
But Holst told the BBC that all zoos had been considered and
there was no place for Marius. He said any space at Yorkshire
should be reserved for a genetically more important giraffe.
The campaign to save Marius, he said, had gone "much too
The killing drew plenty of international outrage on Twitter.
John Phillips ?@jpvegan, from Manhattan: "I seriously hate
zoos. Copenhagen Zoo kills 2 year old giraffe, uses corpse 4
food & research"
Miladysa ?@miladysa, from North West UK: "BLOODY DISGUSTING!"
Leanne Woodfull ?@LeanneWoodfull, from Dublin, Ireland:
"Literally 0 logic behind this atrocity."