The Copenhagen Zoo has been an issue of controversy, following the decision made by the zoo to put down a healthy young giraffe as a preventative measure to stop inbreeding. The Copenhagen Zoo made the decision today, despite several zoos offering approximately $500,000 dollars to relocate the giraffe. In addition, the decision has left many outraged, as several thousand people have signed an online petition in hopes of saving the young giraffe by the name of Marius. Adding to the controversy, the zoo then carved the giraffe’s remains to be fed to lions in front of a crowd of observing guests to the park.
In response to the uproar created by the zoo’s decision, the zoo defended its actions saying that this was the right decision, as Marius was involved in an international breeding program that bans the interbreeding of animals in order to maintain a healthy stock. Then even went so far as to say that Marius was essentially “surplus.”
Speaking on behalf of the Copenhagen Zoo, Bengt Holst, who is the scientific director of the zoo, further elaborated on the controversy caused by the giraffe that was killed with his statement, “It is the purpose of this program to maintain the most healthy population of a species in the present and in the future. Considering that the genes of giraffes are over represented in its population, the European Breeding Program of Giraffes has agreed with us in our decision to euthanize Marius.”
Holst then went on to say, “As the success of a species increases it becomes necessary sometimes to euthanize. We see this as a healthy sign, and it adds as an extra assurance for the future health of a population.” Holt again defended that their decision was the right one when he concluded, “We’ve been open-minded about this decision because we knew that it was ultimately the right decision in the end. When you are serious about science, you can’t let yourself be lead by emotions.”
The public lashed out on the Copenhagen Zoo and their controversial decision to kill the two-year-old giraffe in a variety of ways. Several of the employees at the zoo have received numerous death threats, including Holst, who received a disturbing message “in the middle of the night.” Also, many animal lovers have located themselves at the zoo in protest of the giraffe’s death. In addition, the zoo’s official Facebook page has been flooded with the reactions of many who are left in disgust by the zoo’s final decision.
One noted post read, “There were so many better options before you, than to brutally murder that innocent young giraffe, and what’s worse is that you made a public event out of the decision and have set an appalling example for yourselves.” Another comment read, “Clearly you had other choices to make than to kill this magnificent animal, and you have chosen poorly. This is a huge shame for your zoo. Although all zoos are prisons for their animals, your zoo if full of nothing but executioners.
Despite the outrage expressed by the public, Copenhagen Zoo still feels that they were correct in their decision, which can be seen in the zoo’s official statement, “It is essential that we make an effort to explain our decisions in hope that the public can try and understand it. If we are serious about all breeding activities, and the participation involved with them, then we have to make the correct decisions, and this was one of them.”
By Aaron Weis