PHOTOGRAPH BY PETER HOVE OLESEN, POLFOTO via AP
Published February 10, 2014
Afterward, zoo officials performed a three-hour-long demonstration of how to butcher a giraffe before a large crowd of visitors, including many children. The meat was then fed to the zoo's lions.
"When breeding success increases it is sometimes necessary to euthanize," Bengt Holst, the zoo's scientific director, said in a statement on the giraffe's death. "We see this as a positive sign and as insurance that we in the future will have a healthy giraffe population in European zoos."
Marius's death and very public dismemberment sparked outrage on social media, prompted death threats against staff at the zoo, and was seen by some animal lovers as provocative response to a campaign to spare the giraffe's life in the days and hours leading up to his death.
An online petition asking the Copenhagen Zoo to hold off on killing its unwanted giraffe until an alternate home could be found for him received over 27,000 signatures from around the world but was ignored by the zoo. So were offers by wildlife parks in Britain, Sweden, and the Netherlands to take Marius off their hands rather than see him killed.
Officials at the Copenhagen Zoo, on the other hand, maintain they had no real alternatives to euthanizing Marius because he could play no role in their breeding program or in any other breeding program in Europe, due to the risk of inbreeding.
"Copenhagen Zoo's giraffes are part of an international breeding programme which aims at ensuring a healthy giraffe population in European zoos. This is done by constantly ensur[ing] that only unrelated giraffes breed so that inbreeding is avoided," Holst said in the statement.
"If an animal's genes are well represented in a population further breeding with that particular animal is unwanted. As this giraffe's genes are well represented in the breeding programme and as there is no place for the giraffe in the Zoo's giraffe herd the European Breeding Programme for Giraffes has agreed that Copenhagen Zoo euthanize the giraffe." The European Breeding Programme for Giraffes oversees zoo populations in the European Union.
Holst added that the zoo regularly has to cull surplus animals and that the need to euthanize the giraffe pointed to an overall successful breeding program for giraffes.
Castration or chemical birth control, Holst said, would not have been useful options. Marius's place in the zoo would be better served by a giraffe whose genes would add to the diversity of the population, he said.
Others are less convinced. "I can't believe it," said Robert Kruijif, director of a wildlife park in the Netherlands, who made a last-minute offer to take Marius rather than have him put down. "We offered to save his life. Zoos need to change the way they do business."
Staff at England's Yorkshire Wildlife Park made a similar offer over the weekend, citing their state-of-the-art giraffe facilities that had space for an additional male giraffe, and the fact that they had accepted one of the Copenhagen Zoo's surplus giraffes as recently as 2012. They later released a statement saying they were "saddened" to learn of Marius's death but declined to comment further.
The international furor over the death of the giraffe was in stark contrast to the relatively low-key reaction to the euthanizing of six healthy lions at Britain’s Longleaf Safari Park the same day. The park received criticism on its Facebook page, but nothing on the level of opprobrium, let alone death threats, that staff at the Copenhagen Zoo received.
A great deal of outrage was voiced about the death of the giraffe on Twitter:
Ben Fogle: euthanising Marius the giraffe shows a shocking lack of compassion http://t.co/eFKL8BGplb— The Guardian (@guardian) February 10, 2014
Marius The Giraffe
#HappyBirthdayTomHiddleston << I won't have anymore birthdays b/c Copenhagen Zoo shot & skinned me, then fed me to lions in front of kids.— Marius The Giraffe (@LongLiveMarius) February 10, 2014
"What a nice lesson in death and eugenics for our children." http://t.co/22jpU9U7DY— James Bennet (@JBennet) February 10, 2014
The old petition to save Marius closed on news of his death. A new petition—to sack Bengt Holst as scientific director of the Copenhagen Zoo—was started this morning and now has more than 2,000 signatures.
So with the same logic, why not the zoo officials are killed if their genes are not found worthy for maintaining the diversity of human genes?
This decision was insane provided that the zoo had many options to rehabilitate Marius.
They killed it just to cut the meat budget for the lions?
And what was the need to kill it in the front of visitors and children I don't understand.
I hope all zoos that "euthanize" their animals get the same media attention this giraffe received. I am disgusted by Coppenhagen Zoo's breeding and slaughtering program, but very sad the lions in Britain's safari park received no media attention. All European zoos breeding and euthanizing animals needs more media attention and outrage. Breeding then killing animals is unethical. If they had a surplus of lions and giraffes then why where they bred in the first place? Absolutely irresponsible.
Just shows how cruel the human race are. All animals have the right to life. I don't see how slaughtering could be a lesson to children or any one for that matter. Killing innocent animals is beyond cruel. You can't take nature into your own hands.
A tragic article. Very depressed to have read these peoples' poor sense of judgement. I mean, really? Dissecting a poor animal right before innocent eyes and throwing its meat to a den of lions? Monstrous.
I know lots of low life people that serve NO purpose., so lets kill them. Oh I forgot, we are not barbarians. Really? Try reading this story again and then lets decide which low life is to have a bolt through the head after a last meal. Lets start with the cruel idiots that decided that this beautiful animal had no value. I`m really surprised that they didn`t just let the lions kill the giraffe and save time. What a horrible bunch of people. I hope every one of these dirt bags burns in hell where they belong. And GOOD RIDDANCE. They are no better than the dirt on the bottom of my shoe.
I don't understand why the zoo turned down all the other zoos and wildlife parks that were offering to give Marius a new home. Also why did he have to be slaughtered in front of thousands of visitors? Shouldn't something like this be done away from the public to avoid upsetting anyone?
When we as human beings chose to have animals in captivity (all animals), we are responsible for ther wellbeing.
Killing a healthy young giraf was terrible, and certenly not what all danish people wanted - but obviosly what some did..........VERY sad!
I thought this article should also touch upon why the butchering had to take place in front of the spectators. what's the point? is this a just a Danish thing or what?
This action has been condemed as unnecessary by The Born Free Foundation, Dublin Zoo and Moscow Zoo amongst others.
If we sit back and do nothing we are condoning the slaughter of the giraffe. If you are angered/upset or outraged by the actions of Copenhagen zoo there there is a petition to sign , the link is below or you can find the petition by googling "Close Copenhagen Zoo - The petition site" The petition now has over 139,000 signatures and continues to grow by the day. People from all round the world, including Denmark, have come together to sign the petition.
When we look at the animals, with whom we share this planet, as disposable objects that we own, then we are truly losing our humanity.
Certainly, the action is deplorable and could have been solved through neutering.
However, comparing it to the Holocaust is ignorant. The Holocaust had nothing to do with a fear of inbreeding - there's a reason why humans don't usually mate with their own brothers or cousins; it leads to genetic problems and the offspring will suffer the consequences.
Additionally, blaming the entire country of Denmark is a rash generalization that helps to breed fear and hate in the world. The zoo did not have an entire country full of Danish citizens cheering it on. Let's keep things rational.
I don't see the problem, there are much sadder things going on, for example:
- What massive oil companies get away with
- Factory farmed animals
- Hunting endangered species
- Simply contributing to global warming
The list of what humans do wrong to the world runs into 1000's. Yet one giraffe caused all this fuss, I think people need to get their priorities in order. Why couldn't all the energy going into complaining about this, go to something that actually mattered or that would make a difference.
What percentage of the people who were outraged about this eat meat? Well isn't it a bit hypocritical saying how this is disgusting yet they themselves eat an animal that's just been living healthily and killed for their own pleasure. Whats the difference between a cow and a giraffe (besides the obvious)???
I don't think this should have got all over the news, I think the situation was simply handled badly and that children watched it, was the fault of the parents that let them, not the zoo. Nobody made anyone watch it, in fact the zoo was simply giving the chance for the public to see something educational that they would probably never get the chance to see.
Finally I have no problem with a lion getting fed its natural food. Do you?
I would like to see the Country of Denmark blown up, period. How utterly disgraceful that they killed a Beautiful Giraffe for no good reason. Denmark should disappear r from oblivion.
I am vegetarian....I feel this is a window into what is actually happening and the "fuss" is called awareness. Hopefully there will be some consequences that come of this that the Copenhagen zoo will learn from. The zoo could have easily profited from sending the giraffe to a wildlife refuge; however, they chose to end it's life and create an international uproar and say it was for science. Shame on them!
I am beyond very sad that humans can do these things. My soul crys out for this harmless majestic creature. Neutering & then transferring him off to a facility with open hands for him was the only concievable option in my opinion. I say the next head that should roll is the director in charge of this inhumane decision.
Im sad to be a "human" today after learning this.
Sad day for me, sad day for us. God please help us from ourselves.
if you didn't want him any more as he did not suit your purposes any more, you had a oral responsibility to return him to his natural habitat - Africa.
Taking any life in the name of science is inexcusable.... I just don't understand why Marius was not transferred to some other zoo or safari park by the obstinate officials of the Danish zoo. So many had offered to take him over.
Euthanising the giraffe shows that the zoo has no compassion for animals. Denmark can at least transport that giraffe to other zoos in the world. In my opinion and in no generalizations on all Europeans, I feel that Europe should stop pestering others in the world about animal rights and abuses. The fact that the Danish zoo deliberately shows its sophisticated wares on how to murder a young giraffe just shows whether these attitudes are still testament against conservation or just basically they are still blood thirsty for more in-bred killings.
Laura Diaz, I didn't know about those lions. This is very sad, if the zoo is unable to FEED their animals, send them to where they CAN BE! If this about some DNA blood line/ animal version of the holocaust/ then Denmark needs to rethink that. Remember how that ended????? Thank god they at least feed the poor thing to the lions.They should have sent Marius to another zoo who is not so interested in PURE BLOOD LINES??? REALLY, really?
But how can it be that nobody cares about the deaths of the six healthy lions at Britain’s Longleaf Safari Park that take place that same day? To me, each of them was equally important as Marius the giraffe, but it seems that they aren't to the rest of the world.
What's next? Put down the little mermaid in the harbor on the pretext it doesn't contribute enough to their tourism economy?
I, for one, will never visit Denmark.
@Ellie Diann I can't see what wrong in teaching children what's inside of a animal.
I think its better to teach children the value of meat so they know it's coming from a living animal.
@Ann C.If the lion a not eating a giraffe they would be eating a cow.
Is a giraffe worth more than a healthy cow?
@Jordan Vetter No, It must be done in public so everybody knows what is going on in a Zoo. People could just have walked away if they didn't like it.
@Destiny Hong Yes, it's a danish think to teach our children the value of a animal as well as teaching them where thinks originate from.
Hopefully they will respect the meat they eat every day come from a animal that was alive and happy.
@Carol Wilson What a waste of signatures
You ask whats the difference btw a cow and a giraffe. In this case the difference was the PLACE that the slaughter took place. I eat meat and I would react the same way as I am now if a cow or a pig were killed like that in a "zoo." no problem if they were killed, appropriately, in a slaughterhouse.
what's the purpose of a zoo anyway? if it was to simply create a microcosm of the wildlife, why put animals in separate cages? why don't let carnivores hunt?
so finally, I don't at all think that the lion was fed "natural food" because in all "natural" circumstances, the lion wouldn't have been "fed" meat that was butchered for it in the first place.
luc you are absolutely correct but what do you have to say for these lines
"The international furor over the death of the giraffe was in stark contrast to the relatively low-key reaction to the euthanizing of six healthy lions at Britain’s Longleaf Safari Park the same day"
@Janie Enochs The country of Denmark didn't kill the giraffe, for God's sake. The zoo keepers did.
Calm down, there Janie. You would erase an entire people because of what a few have done?
Lets hope not.
@Janie Enochs @Birgitta Nielsen-Carney @Janie Enochs that is extreme like A LOT! A giraffe is a great animal but if you think about all the tigers and leopards being mercilessly slaughtered for skin or even medicine why don't you channel your anger into saving the Amur Leopards, the rarest big cat rather than a dead giraffe its sad but there are much worse things! At least giraffes aren't critically endangered, why do people get angry about lions and giraffes? Why not other animals, is it because their not cute and fuzzy or whatever spend your time on helping the amur leopard and the desert oryx rather than thoughtless acts of mental mass terrorism!
@Janie Enochs Are you serious? You would blow up an entire country of 5 million people, almost all of whom had nothing to do with this, just for the sake of 1 giraffe? This kind of extreme irrationality gives all animal rights people are very bad name.
@M. Dennison Why is stating that you are a vegetarian important to your point, and how does that relate to this article. I am tired of seeing people announce that they are vegetarians in the comments of articles about animals.
The main point is this. There are bigger crimes regarding wildlife right now than those revolving around captive species. We are wasting too much manpower and media on issues like this and not enough on others such as whaling, poaching, overfishing, etc.
@Narasimha Prasad You cannot 'return' zoo bred animals to their 'natural' habitat. For a zoo bred animal the zoo is his natural habitat and he simply would not have been able to cope in the wild. How very cruel to even suggest it, that would most likely have resulted in a more painful death.
@Rajinder Sandhir You comment "before a crowd of children," and yet I'm more curious- what kind of parent would have their children witness such an "event?" Certainly, they weren't teaching biology to the little ones in the photograph.
I wonder how the children are handling this spectacle? What in the world is this zoo teaching- that unwanted animals "need" be euthanized and slaughtered? The only good outcome I can see, was obviously "natural food" being provided for the lions.
@Laura Diaz I never heard about the deaths of the six lions until I just read your post. If I had known I would have spoken up about their deaths as well as the death of Marius the giraffe; they are every bit as important! Marius's death took on the theater of macabre feeling which is why it became more public.
@Sam Ferrazzi Denmark won't miss you.
@Birgitta Nielsen-Carney @Janie Enochs that is a tad extreme like A LOT! A giraffe is a great animal but if you think about all the tigers and leopards being mercilessly slaughtered for skin or even medicine why don't you channel your anger into saving the Amur Leopards, the rarest big cat rather than a dead giraffe its sad but there are much worse things. At last giraffes aren't critically endangered, why do people get angry about lions and giraffes? Why not other animals, is it because their not cute and fuzzy or whatever spend your time on helping the amur leopard and the desert oryx rather than thoughtless acts of mental mass terrorism!
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