Baby Giraffe Being
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Baby Giraffe Being Dissected at Copenhagen Zoo in front of Children | Chopped for Lions | Killed
Darius the giraffe is dissected at Darius the giraffe dissected at Copenhagen zoo. WARNING: some viewers may find these images disturbing Link to video: Marius the giraffe dissected at Copenhagen zoo
Marius the giraffe killed at Copenhagen zoo despite worldwide protests
(The Guardian) Young giraffe deemed inadequate for breeding was shot, dissected in public and then fed to the lions despite offers of a new home
In the chilly dawn of Sunday morning a healthy young giraffe in a Danish zoo was given its favourite meal of rye bread by a keeper -- and then shot in the head with a rifle by a vet.
The death of Marius, an 18-month-old giraffe considered useless for breeding because its genes were too common, was followed by his dissection in front of a large crowd, including fascinated-looking children, prompting outrage and protests around the world.
Copenhagen zoo carried out the killing despite a small group of protesters at the gates, an international petition which garnered more than 27,000 signatures, as well as offers from several zoos to rehouse the creature. The Yorkshire Wildlife Park, near Doncaster, which offered to take Marius, said it was saddened to learn of the its fate.
The zoo's decision to conduct the public autopsy, and the disclosure that the animal was shot rather than being killed by lethal injection so that its carcass could be fed to the carnivores, fanned the protests and provoked some calls on Twitter for the zoo to be boycotted or closed. The controversy was fed further by startling images and video of the process, including a picture of a large chunk of meat with an unmistakably spotty hide being fed to the lions.
Bengt Holst, scientific director at the zoo, told the Guardian they had never considered cancelling the killing, despite the protests. "We have been very steadfast because we know we've made this decision on a factual and proper basis. We can't all of a sudden change to something we know is worse because of some emotional events happening around us," he said.
"It's important that we try to explain why we do it and then hope people understand it. If we are serious about our breeding activities, including participation in breeding programmes, then we have to follow what we know is right. And this is right."
The autopsy took almost three hours because of the numbers of spectators, and the zookeepers giving detailed explanations of the process.
Holst said they had previously had public dissections of zebras, snakes and goats, but the giraffe was a first.
"People are fascinated by it, both adults and children, and they would like to hear stories they normally don't have access to. I think that's good. It helps increase the knowledge about animals but also the knowledge about life and death."
When a storm of protest broke over the news that the giraffe was to be killed -- because the small gene pool among European zoos meant there was a risk of inbreeding if it was allowed to reproduce -- the zoo posted a detailed justification on its website, explaining that as part of an international programme, only unrelated animals were allowed to breed: "When breeding success increases it is sometimes necessary to euthanise."
The zoo also said that giving Marius contraceptives would have unwanted side-effects and represent poor animal welfare, and that there was no programme for releasing giraffes into the wild.
Copenhagen Zoo Director Interview: Baby Giraffe Chopped for Lions in front of Children | Killed
WATCH: Lions Eat Up Giraffe Chopped in front of Children
Interview of Bengt Holst, Scientific Director of Copenhagen Zoo
(CNN) -- An online petition to save a healthy young giraffe from death has failed, despite thousands of signatures from animal lovers.
Copenhagen Zoo said it euthanized the male, named Marius, on Sunday because of a duty to avoid inbreeding.
"This is the first giraffe. ... I do not understand the outrage -- we are all used to on a current basis of animals being culled in the wild," he said.
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Baby Giraffe Being Dissected at Copenhagen Zoo in front of Children | Chopped for Lions | Killed. Dallas Zoo lion kills lioness in front of visitors
International breeding program
Copenhagen Zoo said only zoos that follow certain rules can be part of international breeding programs.