Killing the Giraffe

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This morning’s decision by Copenhagen Zoo to put down a giraffe has caused an international outcry.  Marius was a healthy two year old.  But because of rules on in-breeding, it was decided he had to die.

Zoos from across Europe offered to step in and save him – but they were all turned down.  At 0930 local time, Marius was shot by bolt gun.  He was then dissected in front of a crowd (yes, even children were watching) and his carcass was fed to lions and tigers.

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Now I understand animal populations have to be managed and the healthy stock protected.  I don’t live far from a large deer park here in Denmark and I’m sure many there are culled.  But killing a healthy giraffe that’s been kept in captivity just seems plain wrong.

What’s amazed me more, though, is how the zoo has handled this whole affair.  The scientific director is quoted as saying the campaign to save Marius had gone “much too far”.  He says they kill between twenty and thirty animals there a year and warns people not to let emotions get in the way of science.

It’s difficult not to.  I’ve had emails and tweets from friends in the UK asking me what kind of ‘barbaric’ country I live in.

You certainly can’t accuse the zoo of being anything less than transparent.  But was this really the only option?  It hasn’t exactly done much for international public relations.  In fact, I would say this has been a PR disaster.

  1. Yes Marius’ killing was barbarism. There are a lot of Danish apologists for what happened on the basis of science and eugenics, all noticeably lacking the compassion that causes other countries to protest. Seems to be something in the Danish culture about all animals being meat, even exotic and endangered ones.

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