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Why was Marius, a perfectly healthy giraffe at the Copenhagen Zoo euthanized, butchered, and fed to the lions in front of a crowd of children?

According to zoo officials, this was to prevent inbreeding, and the ensuing possible genetic defects.  According to zoo officials, this was a last resort.
According to zoo officials, there was no other way.

No doubt, zoos around the world euthanize animals that truly require it on a daily basis.  It raises no red flags with the public.  These other euthanized animals don’t make headlines in every international news organization around the world.

Marius was different.  Thousands of people signed an online petition to save the animals’ life.  Unfortunately for Marius, it wasn’t enough.

A representative from the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) explained that, as an individual, Marius wasn’t inbred.  Nor was the giraffe suffering from any identifiable health problem. However, the spokesman stated that Marius’ parents had produced other offspring, so there were already giraffes with similar genes in the organization’s breeding program.

Marius was simply a victim of circumstance.  In essence, Marius was a victim of the organization’s success in breeding giraffes. 

That being the case, only five giraffes have been euthanized for conservation reasons, according to the European stud records, which date back to 1828.

Remember, according to zoo officials, they explored all viable options.

According to zoo officials “sending the giraffe to a zoo that doesn’t participate in the EAZA-led breeding program… could leave the giraffe or it’s offspring being sold into worse circumstances, such as those of a circus or private collection.”

Really Copenhagen?  A fate worse than being euthanized, slaughtered and fed to the lions?

Contraception and castration were also possibilities, but both would require sedation.  According to a zoo official, this option was too risky.  “This is a relatively high-risk procedure in the case of giraffes, as they are liable to break their necks when they fall while sedated.”

Again Copenhagen, how could sedation be any riskier than being euthanized, slaughtered and fed to the lions?

Face it.  There were other options.

However, the atrocity didn’t end there.  Marius; was then skinned and slaughtered in front of a crowd of children.  Peter Sandoe, professor of bioethics at the University of Copenhagen, who is well acquainted with the zoo, said he sympathized with the decision to put down the giraffe.  “When small children can go and see this giraffe and see it being turned into lion food, it’s a very good picture of what nature is like,” he said.  “On the savannah,” Professor Sandoe explained, “many will die young, killed by lions, killed by diseases, killed by accidents, by lack of food”.

Apparently, Mr. Sandoe missed the point.  These animals, be it the parents, or grandparents of Marius were removed from the savannah and put in cages, all in the name of conservation and protecting them from dangers that giraffes might face in the wild, like accidents and lack of food.  Typically, one would expect that an animal under the care and protection of trained zoological professionals would live LONGER than an animal in the wild.

Apparently, not in Copenhagen.