National Geographic News
A photo of a group of giraffes.

A group of giraffes, including the now-deceased Marius (center), are seen at the Copenhagen Zoo on February 8.

PHOTOGRAPH BY IRFAN CEMILOGLU, ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY

Christine Dell'Amore

National Geographic

Published February 14, 2014

A second Danish zoo giraffe will not be killed, the Jyllands Park Zoo announced on Friday. The announcement counters widespread media reports that the animal was on death row.

"There is no plan, and there has never been a plan to neither move or euthanize any of our giraffes," the zoo wrote on its Facebook page Friday.

"The media stories are only based on a hypothetical situation, which we have answered questions about. This situation now seems to be eliminated," the Facebook post says.

A week after the killing of a Copenhagen Zoo giraffe named Marius caused a global uproar, Jyllands Park announced that it would also euthanize its male reticulated giraffe—bizarrely, also named Marius—if a breeding female giraffe were to join its herd.

That's because the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) dictates that facilities can't have too many giraffes with the same genes. (Related: "Opinion: Killing of Marius the Giraffe Exposes Myths About Zoos.")

However, "the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) have announced that Jyllands Park Zoo is not to recieve [sic] a female giraffe any time soon as part of the programme," says Jyllands' Facebook page.

EAZA issued its own statement Friday, confirming that "no request has been received from Jyllands for the EEP to consider the transfer of a female giraffe to the herd, and given the facilities available at the zoo and the lack of further need for breeding herds of reticulated giraffes, the EEP would not recommend the transfer of a female giraffe to Jyllands.

"There has been no indication from Jyllands that they have ever planned to euthanase this giraffe."

The association added that it "cannot support any decision to cull the animal in question."

Controversial Killing

The Copenhagen Zoo's Marius was killed February 9. 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, Copenhagen Zoo's scientific director, said in a February 9 statement on their 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 a 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 tens of thousands of signatures from around the world but was ignored by the zoo.

Also ignored were offers by wildlife parks in Britain, Sweden, and the Netherlands to take Marius off their hands rather than see him killed.

Follow Christine Dell'Amore on Twitter and Google+.

37 comments
Cindy Wines
Cindy Wines

I hope this never happens again. I was appalled that this poor giraffe was dismembered in front of the children and then fed to the lions. This beautiful healthy giraffe should have been sent to the zoos that wanted him!  Then there was also a family of lions that was killed at the Longeat Safari Park. Shame on them for doing that also. Don't breed in the zoos. This should of never happened. Such an irreverance of life.

Pita Ferguson
Pita Ferguson

This entire situation has been blown out of proportion. Culling animals in zoos is not an uncommon practice. It's interesting how the culling of a single giraffe in Copenhagen has received so much media attention, but the culling of 6 lions at Longleat Zoo in London, which took place the same day, managed to pass seemingly unnoticed. 

Pita Ferguson
Pita Ferguson

This entire situation is overblown and over dramatized. Culling animals within zoos is not an uncommon practice. In the US contraceptive practices within zoos have been put into action, but in many cases reversals have not been successful -In other words, animals on birth control have not been able to conceive young years after being taken off of birth control methods. In European zoos, typically animals are culled after they have reached an age when they would naturally be pushed out of a family group. For everyone who thinks sterilization should have been considered to prevent inbreeding... well sterilizing an animal goes so far as to prohibit an animal from displaying natural parental behaviors. With the number of naturalistic behaviors that are lost once an animal is kept in captivity, parenting in animals is natural, its not something taught and allowing an animal to carry out parenting practices can help to promote naturalistic behaviors that would also be exhibited in the wild. BTW did anyone realize that 6 healthy lions were culled at a zoo in London the same day Copenhagen culled their giraffe? Again, its not an uncommon practice, with the limited number of resources available and importance of maintaining high genetic variability within breeding programs, this just one situation that got too much attention from for all the wrong reasons. 

Lisa Jones
Lisa Jones

Please read >> Jyllands Park Zoo IM me on Facebook >> Hear is what they said >> If, and only if, it is not possible to find him a good home ( The Giraffe ) Then it can be necessary to euthanize him. But this could be so far into the future that the male giraffe could have died of old age at that time. Kind regards Jyllands Park Zoo.

I IM them saying >> No you still do not get it >> ( Killing a healthy Giraffe is never an option ) and I placed the same message on there Facebook page 


What did Jyllands Park zoo do? >> They blocked me on there Facebook page and took down my post!

Ron Handy
Ron Handy

This is not unusual .! Zoos all over the world do these unkind things to animals each, & every year. " Including the USA.!!! I say close all Zoos,& only allow animal nature reserve parks, where animals can have the respect they deserve .!!!!

Jeanne W.
Jeanne W.

Why on Earth didn't they just move, or sterilize the animal? Why kill it? Or is that a power thing! I can do it, so I will! These "caretakers" are barbarians!

Bill Warner
Bill Warner

Bengt Holst should be relieved of his position. Period. He needs to work for a meat processing facility, and those who employ him need to pay attention to the rules of civil behavior.

gabriela kaplan
gabriela kaplan

There are so many people who world wide have never seen a live giraffe that their presence can educate how important animals  are. 


Instead of euthanizing them,   "FIX" i.e. castrate them, so they can't reproduce, before they are  sent to the new locations, so visitors can enjoy their presence, and be "ambassadors" of their species, having  visitors appreciate and spread  the good word on their behalf?


To kill an animal is abhorrent!!

Alanna Parker
Alanna Parker

What went on at this zoo is so appalling it should be boycotted and not one more person grace it's doors! To have offers from many to accomidate Marius and instead put out a treat that it favoured then put a bullet in its head. Then butcher it infront of children and people visiting the zoo, are you kidding this is like a horror show! Anyone working there should be absolutely appalled. Find a new home for these animals and shut the doors there is nothing you can do or say to redeem yourselves this was beyond sick!

Paula Stein
Paula Stein

Does this mean they don't plan on killing Marius...for now??

Jan Flynn
Jan Flynn

Am I missing something here? If the zoo accepts a female giraffe, in order to breed more giraffes, they'd have to kill a male giraffe to make room for the female, in order to breed more giraffes? So why don't they just stop breeding giraffes?!! 

Alex Turk
Alex Turk

And you thought the only barbarians were Taliban, Al Quada, and their master Saudi Arabia!!!

Srinivasan Murali
Srinivasan Murali

Why don't they transfer the animal to other places where it can be take care of?

Darshan Nembang
Darshan Nembang

just give them to some other zoo such cruel administrators should be fired or removed

O. Weber
O. Weber

This case is a typical mass manipulation, in the dark way. The aim was to spark out the hate of the people, to get attention.

I am wondering why the danish Zoo has not accepted the relocation offers of the giraffe to other Zoos, from UK, Italy, etc., whatever.

The only ones happy are the lions from that Zoo! Yummy, hm-hmm. :)

Justin Smith
Justin Smith

Wild animals get killed and eaten as a normal, everyday, event. Whats the big deal. 

yolanda Tamez
yolanda Tamez

I am so happy to hear that seven year old Giraffe, Marius will not be put down. I was really upset by the first Marius, a tender 18 months, being put down.  I am  so so happy to know the Marius the seven year old, will be taken care of...thanks so very much....

Muhammad Umair Khan
Muhammad Umair Khan

@Pita Ferguson  Hey............you are right to some extent.......you are telling about the lions............lions were euthanized??..........there is an option of exchanging them with other zoos or countries.......healthy animals can not be killed :) 

M Bohn
M Bohn

@Ron Handy
And what about those animals that are extinct in the wild, that have no nature reserve parks to go to?

M Bohn
M Bohn

@Jeanne W.
There are only a limited number of spaces for giraffes in captivity.

M Bohn
M Bohn

@Alanna Parker
From my understanding, none of the places that offered Marius a home were from accredited facilities. I've heard, but haven't verified, that one didn't even have giraffes (which require very specific housing).
Necropsies (animal autopsies) are absolutely fascinating and highly educational. The event was well publicized, so any parent who brought their child that day knew what they were getting into.
I've heard from several keepers on internet forums, and they all support the zoo in its decision to do what is best for the captive zoo population. It's one of the differences between some European zoos and US zoos.

Tiffany G.
Tiffany G.

What they did was bad (ok... Terrible, cruel, cold blooded, ect...), but do you really mean what you said? A bit extreme, don't you think?

M Bohn
M Bohn

@Darshan Nembang
From what I understand, there weren't any available spots in accredited zoos available.

Akvile Volosk
Akvile Volosk

@O. Weber

1. What are lions usualy eating in the zoo? Zoo buys meat for lions. So somewere animals are killed, theyr meat is transported to the zoo, to feed lions. 

2. What does zoo do when there are too many giraffes with the same genes? Transporting them to the other county?


Instead of transporting meat to the lions and transporting giraffes somewere far away, Denmark zoo chooses the most natural and rational choise - to feed giraffe to lion. They saved fuel from burning to the air and they reminded us how does nature works. I thank them for their political courage to make this rational choise




Jennifer Dianovsky
Jennifer Dianovsky

@Justin Smith  The big deal, is that a zoo is a controlled environment.  It is not the wild.  Animals should not be allowed to breed if the life they are creating will only be destroyed.  That is a crime against all that is human!! 

A Thomas Tran
A Thomas Tran

@yolanda Tamez  Do you eat meat?  


If so, consider the millions of animals we collectively slaughter every day for our pleasure (we eat way more meat than necessary).  These animals live in man-made slavery as did these giraffes This is no different.  


I eat meat, and as such I would be a hypocrite to lash out against that zoo.

M Bohn
M Bohn

@Jennifer Dianovsky @Justin Smith
Some European zoos believe that animals should go through the natural breeding processes, and get the behavioral and physiological/hormonal benefits from it. The offspring are euthanized at the age at which they'd leave the family group in the wild.

Jennifer Dianovsky
Jennifer Dianovsky

@A Thomas Tran @yolanda Tamez  No, you would not be.  This is a completely different issue.  Farm animals have been breed for centuries to be part of our food supply.  I will not argue about this being right or wrong.  It certainly has gotten out of control and needs much higher standards.  A zoo is a controlled environment, the people running the zoo can control which animals breed or do not breed.  In this case, this zoo has opted not to spend the money to sterilize it's males.  This would have prevented Marius from even being conceived.  Instead, the let him be born, knowing  he would be lion meat.  This has NOTHING to do with being vegan or not. 

M Bohn
M Bohn

@Jennifer Dianovsky @A Thomas Tran@yolanda Tamez
It's not a matter of spending the money on sterilization. Some European zoos believe that animals should go through the natural breeding processes, and get the behavioral and physiological/hormonal benefits from it. The offspring are euthanized at the age at which they'd leave the family group in the wild.
I'm not sure at what point Marius' fate was decided. I've heard, but haven't verified, that they tried to find a spot for him long before the euthanasia was announced. In the States, most studbooks are updated every year, and breeding/moving recommendations made then.

Share

Feed the World

  • How to Feed Our Growing Planet

    How to Feed Our Growing Planet

    National Geographic explores how we can feed the growing population without overwhelming the planet in our food series.

See blogs, stories, photos, and news »

Latest Photo Galleries

See more photos »

Shop Our Space Collection

  • Be the First to Own <i>Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey</i>

    Be the First to Own Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

    The updated companion book to Carl Sagan's Cosmos, featuring a new forward by Neil deGrasse Tyson is now available. Proceeds support our mission programs, which protect species, habitats, and cultures.

Shop Now »