Copenhagen Zoo's Killing Of Healthy Giraffe Sparks Outrage

A Danish zoo killed one of its young giraffes because of laws prohibiting inbreeding. He was killed in front of the public, then fed to carnivores.
Posted at 3:42 PM, Feb 09, 2014

​The killing of a healthy giraffe at a Copenhagen Zoo Sunday is causing controversy around the world.

The 2-year-old giraffe, named Marius, was killed because of an international breeding law that prohibits inbreeding. A zoo official says Marius' genes were already quote "over-represented" in the zoo. (Via KFOR)

With TV cameras and families watching, Marius died instantly after a staff veterinarian anesthetized him and shot him in the head with a bolt-action rifle. The animal was later skinned and his meat fed to carnivorous animals. (Via BBC)

The killing was met with outrage from the public, leaving many questioning whether it was necessary.

Time reports other zoos requested to take Marius, but one already had too many giraffes in his genetic line, and the other did not guarantee a permanent stay at the zoo.

In an attempt to find another solution, the idea of contraceptives was brought up on the Copenhagen Zoo's webpage.

But officials said giraffes cannot be given contraceptives because of dangerous side effects, and the animals should breed naturally. They also noted if Marius was let into the wild, it was unlikely he'd survive.

The zoo's scientific director also told Time why neutering wasn't an option, "Our most important objective is to ensure that the animals have the best life they can for as long as they live ... If we're serious about science, we can't be led by emotion."

Many had unsuccessfully petitioned to prevent the killing, with one petition receiving more than 27,000 signatures. One signer wrote, "I thought zoos were meant to save animals, not kill them." (Via Care2)

Marius' killing comes amid Sochi, Russia's decision to euthanize stray dogs ahead of the Winter Olympics, also angering many activists.

Initial reports said the city planned to kill thousands of stray dogs wandering the streets of Sochi before the games were set to begin last Friday. (Via News 12)

But according to The New York Times, a spokesman for the International Olympic Committee claims the dogs are receiving health examinations and that only the unhealthy ones are actually killed.


The Copenhagen Zoo has taken similar action before with bears and tigers, also to prevent inbreeding.