The Copenhagen Zoo finally euthanized a troublesome giraffe, despite protests and petitions to transfer the animal to another zoo. The kicker here is that they executed the giraffe in front of a large group of school children and then proceeded to feed it to the lions at the zoo. Their excuse? They did it for the science! From BBC:
Thousands of people had signed an online petition appealing for a change of heart over the two-year-old called Marius. The zoo said it had no choice because of its duty to avoid in-breeding.Marius was killed by a bolt gun, not a lethal injection, which would contaminate the meat.
A post-mortem examination was broadcast live on the internet. A crowd of visitors, including children, watched as the carcass was skinned, cut up and fed to the lions. A spokesman for the zoo told the Associated Press the event allowed parents to decide whether their children should watch.
“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,” Stenbaek Bro told AP. The zoo’s scientific director, Bengt Holst, told the BBC he had received death threats but would not alter his style of animal management.
Watching the Channel 4 interview above really opens up the thought process behind the event and you can obviously see where Holst comes off a bit cold. But I think he’s got a good point at the same time. This is life and you don’t get to see this sort of thing happen everyday. Sometimes you have to help life a bit with a bolt gun though.
It’s might’ve been more pleasing to see this animal live in captivity at another zoo for a full life, but at the same time, the zoo claims to have a responsibility to the animal population around the globe and Marius would be a risk if allowed to live.
Mr. Holst defended Marius’s destruction, saying that giraffes had to be selected to ensure the best genes were passed down to ensure the long-term survival of the species:
[Holst] told the BBC it was a responsible practice for zoos to manage their animal populations to ensure they remained healthy, with some 20-30 animals put down at Copenhagen Zoo in a typical year.
“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,” Mr Holst told the BBC.
He said all zoos had been considered and there was no place for Marius – including at Yorkshire where, he said, any space should be reserved for a genetically more important giraffe. The campaign to save him, he said, had gone “much too far”. (via)
It doesn’t sit well that all of this was done in front of school children, but it’s not like I can throw a ton of outrage towards the Copenhagen Zoo. It was a learning experience I probably would’ve killed for back when I was in school and the experience itself is once in a lifetime.
It is just unsettling to see animals put down. No one wants to see an animal mistreated or murdered, but the zoo’s point of view is that keeping the animal alive was a risk as well. At least young Marius the giraffe went on to become dinner for the lions, bears and tigers at the zoo. He’s doing his part!