A lion ripping into the flesh of a giraffe might seem like fodder for a graphic nature documentary; however, such savagery was actually orchestrated recently by administrators at a zoo in Denmark.
According to reports, the Copenhagen Zoo faced a dilemma regarding a giraffe called Marius who, if left in his habitat, might ultimately breed with a relative in violation of rules against inbreeding. While fans of the towering resident engaged in a grassroots effort to save him, zoo officials decided to kill him and, following an autopsy, dismember him in front of young children and other visitors.
After that display, Marius’ remains were fed to lions and other predators on the premises.
The two-year-old giraffe received the online support of more than 27,000 individuals hoping the zoo would find some other way to deal with its problem. Scientific Director Bengt Holst, however, suggested that shooting Marius with a bolt gun was the only appropriate course of action.
While the zoo could have sterilized the animal, Holst said that he would then “take up space for more genetically valuable giraffes.”
A number of other habitats, including Yorkshire Wildlife Park in the United Kingdom, offered to take Marius. The Copenhagen Zoo, however, was determined to kill the herbivore and cut him into pieces before an audience Holst described as “very enthusiastic.”
Nevertheless, the petition to save this animal was peppered with strong criticism from those who signed it. One Marius supporter suggested that since the zoo raised him, “it is their responsibility to find him a home.”
The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria reportedly approve of the zoo’s decision. Holst suggested that he does “not understand the outrage,” indicating that “we are all used to on a current basis of animals being culled in the wild.”
Of course, zoos are decidedly not the same environment one might find in the Serengeti. Nevertheless, Marius is far from the only animal to be put down for the sake of convenience.
Despite the protests of those who tried to save him, Holst and others at the zoo made the final decision regarding the animal’s fate. Instead of allowing him to “take up space” or sending him to another location, administrators decided he would be better off in the digestive tract of the zoo’s resident carnivores.
–B. Christopher Agee
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Photo Credit: Nationaal Archief (Creative Commons)