Zoo kills "surplus" giraffe in front of children, feeds it to lions

Illustration for article titled Zoo kills "surplus" giraffe in front of children, feeds it to lions

Did this giraffe really need to die? A Danish zoo shot and killed Marius, a healthy giraffe in their care, before feeding him to their lions... in front of a group of school children.


Saying that Marius' genes were "over-represented," The Copenhagen Zoo, which also has seven other giraffes, announced plans to put down Marius. Before they did so, however, they fielded a number of offers from other zoos to take him in and one offer from a private individual to buy the giraffe for $680,000. All of the offers were turned down, saying that the space should be used instead for what the zoo's Scientific Director Bengt Holst called a "genetically more valuable giraffe," and that sometimes zoo breeding programs resulted in "a surplus animal."

Inviting children was also a controversial move, which Copenhagen Zoo spokesperson Tobias Stenbaek Bro defended to the AP, saying "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."

Illustration for article titled Zoo kills "surplus" giraffe in front of children, feeds it to lions

So, what do you think? What should the zoo have done? What's the best way to cope with inbreeding problems among small populations of animals in captivity? And what do you think about the zoo's decision to open it up to the public?


Images: AP Photo/POLFOTO, Peter Hove Olesen.



I'm conflicted. On one hand the zoo was right when they said that ethically it should be no different from feeding rats to animals as it is to kill a giraffe and feed it to the lions. Just because it's a big cuddly giraffe shouldn't make it special. Also, the zoo was also bound by a bunch of regulations regarding inbreeding forcing the situation.

But, if other zoos were willing to take the animal then it's absurd to kill it.

Inbreeding is only a concern because the animals are kept in captivity. Zoos store animals in non-natural environments for entertainment purposes. Who really cares about superior genetic stock if the animals cannot be released into the wild anyway. Here's an easy solution. Stop taking animals and putting them in zoos. No more inbreeding. No more forced killing. No more controversy.