I am so outraged over this story I can hardly contain myself. According to the New York Times (WARNING: THE LINK CONTAINS DISTURBING PHOTO), a Danish Zoo shot a healthy young male giraffe named Marius, then butchered it and fed it to the lions in front of children and families. Cultural differences aside, Western society values compassion toward animals. The zoo wanted to teach the children a lesson about the circle of life, but this is taking it way too far. Animal welfare advocates are outraged.
The zoo has justified the killing by stating that the giraffe did not contain healthy genes, and posed the risk of inbreeding if allowed to remain in the captive giraffe population.
“We don’t do it to be cruel; we do it to ensure a healthy population,” Bengt Holst, the zoo’s scientific director, said. “You have to breed them to make sure the population is renewed.”
The Danish zoo rejected offers from other zoos to take the animal in. They shot Marius rather than euthanizing him because they didn’t want to contaminate his meat in a way that would prevent them from feeding it to the predatory animals at the zoo.
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I have so many questions.
Couldn’t they have sterilized Marius, allowing him to remain in the captive population without reproducing? The worst part of this story is the way they turned it into a spectacle. Lions can survive on lots of other types of meat: it doesn’t have to be giraffe. To me, the giraffe would have had more value as a LIVING example from the African wilderness.
What kind of parent allows their kids to watch this? There is a scene in the film Life of Pi in which a tiger is allowed to kill and eat an animal in front of the children at the zoo, but this is a MOVIE. It’s fiction, not real life. There are plenty of documentary films showing lions and other African predators hunting and eating giraffes and other prey. Go get it from the library, don’t scar your child for life by allowing them to witness a giraffe being skinned and quartered.
I am going to open this up for your comments. Please tell me what you think: was the giraffe killed based on sound scientific reasoning, or is this a barbaric act?
You can leave a comment on the Copenhagen Zoo’s Facebook page.