A young giraffe named Marius, was euthanized by a boltgun in Copenhagen Zoo this Sunday morning, the reason being that the there is a surplus of giraffes and the zoo is afraid that inbreeding may begin to occur. The zoo chose to kill the 18-month-old via boltgun instead of lethal injection so as to not poison the meat that will be fed to carnivores residing at the zoo; part of the remains will also be used in research.
The event has sparked controversy after multiple zoos put in offers to save the giraffe and give it a new home. One zoo in particular, The Yorkshire Wildlife Park, has room for an extra male in what is described as a “state-of-the-art giraffe house.” After hearing of Marius’s death, the Yorkshire Wildlife Park released a statement saying it was “saddened” that Copenhagen Zoo decided to go through with the procedure rather than give the giraffe a new home, thereby keeping him alive. Another zoo in Sweden and a wildlife park in The Netherlands also put in last-minute offers to take the giraffe but were turned down.
Stine Jensen, from Denmark’s Organization “Against the Suffering of Animals” says “it just shows that the zoo is in fact not the ethical institution that it wants to portray itself as being, because here you have a waste product – that being Marius.” Marius is the first giraffe to be put down at the facility, but an estimated 20-30 animals are put down at the Copenhagen Zoo each year including tigers, bears and zebras.
While some describe killing the giraffe as “cruel” and “unnecessary,” Bengt Holst, the zoo’s scientific director, believes the zoo made the right decision stating: “it was the only option they had given that the giraffe would not survive in the wild due to its attachment to humans.” He added that giving Marius away would violate UE breeding laws, because Marius was a product of inbreeding and therefore was deemed unfit to reproduce. He added that Marius’ genetic inferiority would be wasted if another zoo were to take him in as it should be used for another giraffe with superior genes. When questioned as to whether giving Marius contraceptives would be a viable option, he stated that they believed in breeding giraffes naturally, adding, “contraceptives have a number of unwanted side effects on the internal organs and we would therefore apply a poorer animal welfare if we did not euthanize.”
The zoo apparently opened the dissection of the giraffe to the public to view before he was cut up and fed to carnivores. Some claim it was a way to generate extra income while others believe it was for educational purposes.
It seems there are many upset in the decision to euthanize Marius. An online petition was created which generated thousands of signatures vying to protect the young giraffe. The creator of the petition, Maria Evans, feels strongly that the zoo could have tried harder to find a better option stating, “the zoo have produced him so it is their responsibility to find him a home, no matter how long it takes. They must not be allowed to take the easy option.”
By Lian Morrison