Danish Zoo Kills Giraffe To Prevent Inbreeding - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Danish Zoo Kills Giraffe To Prevent Inbreeding

Posted: Updated:

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) - Saying it needed to prevent inbreeding, the Copenhagen Zoo killed a 2-year-old giraffe and fed its remains to lions as visitors watched, ignoring a petition signed by thousands and offers from other zoos and a private individual to save the animal.

Marius, a healthy male, was put down Sunday using a bolt pistol, said zoo spokesman Tobias Stenbaek Bro. Visitors, including children, were invited to watch while the giraffe was then skinned and fed to the lions.

Marius' plight triggered a wave of online protests and renewed debate about the conditions of zoo animals. Before the giraffe was killed, an online petition to save it had received more than 20,000 signatures.

But the public feeding of Marius' remains to the lions was popular at Copenhagen Zoo. Stenbaek Bro said it allowed parents to decide whether their children should watch what the zoo regards as an important display of scientific knowledge about animals.

"I'm actually proud because I think we have given children a huge understanding of the anatomy of a giraffe that they wouldn't have had from watching a giraffe in a photo," Stenbaek Bro said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

He said the zoo, which now has seven giraffes left, followed the recommendation of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria to put down Marius by because there already were a lot of giraffes with similar genes in the organization's breeding program.

The Amsterdam-based EAZA has 347 members, including many large zoos in European capitals, and works to conserve global biodiversity and achieve the highest standards of care and breeding for animals.

Stenbaek Bro said EAZA membership isn't mandatory, but most responsible zoos are members of the organization.

He said his zoo had turned down offers from other ones to take Marius and an offer from a private individual who wanted to buy the giraffe for 500,000 euros ($680,000).

Stenbaek Bro said a significant part of EAZA membership is that the zoos don't own the animals themselves, but govern them, and therefore can't sell them to anyone outside the organization that doesn't follow the same set of rules.

He also said it is important for the breeding programs to work.

Bengt Holst, Copenhagen Zoo's scientific director, said it turned down an offer from Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Britain, which is a member of EAZA, because Marius' older brother lives there and the park's space could be better used by a "genetically more valuable giraffe."

Yorkshire Wildlife Park said it called the zoo on Saturday with a last-minute offer to house Marius in a new giraffe house with room for an extra male. It said it was saddened by the killing of Marius, but "without knowing the full details it would be inappropriate to comment further."

Copenhagen Zoo also turned down an offer from a zoo in northern Sweden, because it was not an EAZA member and didn't want to comply with the same high standards, Holst said.

"I know the giraffe is a nice looking animal, but I don't think there would have been such an outrage if it had been an antelope, and I don't think anyone would have lifted an eyebrow if it was a pig," said Holst.

Copenhagen Zoo doesn't give giraffes contraceptives or castrate them because that could have unwanted side effects on their internal organs, and the zoo regards parental care as important, said Holst.

EAZA said it supported the zoo's decision to "humanely put the animal down and believes strongly in the need for genetic and demographic management within animals in human care."

However, the organization Animal Rights Sweden said the case highlights what it believes zoos do to animals regularly.

"It is no secret that animals are killed when there is no longer space, or if the animals don't have genes that are interesting enough," it said in a statement. "The only way to stop this is to not visit zoos."

"When the cute animal babies that attract visitors grow up, they are not as interesting anymore," said the organization.

Elisa Allen, spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in the U.K., said Marius' case should serve as a wake-up call for anyone who "still harbors the illusion that zoos serve any purpose beyond incarcerating intelligent animals for profit."

She said in a statement, "Giraffes rarely die of old age in captivity, and had Marius not been euthanized today, he would have lived out his short life as a living exhibit, stranded in a cold climate, thousands of miles away from his true home."

---

Malin Rising reported from Stockholm, Toby Sterling in Amsterdam and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • LOOKING FOR A HOME? 10 Homes For Sale In Spokane For $125,000

    LOOKING FOR A HOME? 10 Homes For Sale In Spokane For $125,000

    Thursday, April 17 2014 5:56 PM EDT2014-04-17 21:56:12 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash. - Spring is a popular time to purchase and sell a home. Here are 10 homes for sale in Spokane for $125,000. These homes were found on www.WindermereSpokane.com. If you would like more information on any of these homes or would like to schedule a tour, contact your real estate agent with the correct MLS number.>>
    SPOKANE, Wash. - Spring is a popular time to purchase and sell a home. Here are 10 homes for sale in Spokane for $125,000. These homes were found on www.WindermereSpokane.com. If you would like more information on any of these homes or would like to schedule a tour, contact your real estate agent with the correct MLS number.>>
  • LOOK: 5 Foreclosed N. Idaho Homes For Sale For Under $120,000

    LOOK: 5 Foreclosed N. Idaho Homes For Sale For Under $120,000

    Wednesday, March 12 2014 2:00 PM EDT2014-03-12 18:00:09 GMT
    KHQ.COM - If you are in the market to buy a house you may want to consider looking at these homes that are currently in foreclosure in N. Idaho. These are five homes in multiple areas of N. Idaho that you can get for under $120,000. With a little paint and some elbow grease, many of these homes would be great for those who are looking to flip a home and turn a profit.>>
    KHQ.COM - If you are in the market to buy a house you may want to consider looking at these homes that are currently in foreclosure in N. Idaho. These are five homes in multiple areas of N. Idaho that you can get for under $120,000. With a little paint and some elbow grease, many of these homes would be great for those who are looking to flip a home and turn a profit.>>
  • LOOKING FOR A HOME? Here Are 15 Homes For Sale For $175,000

    LOOKING FOR A HOME? Here Are 15 Homes For Sale For $175,000

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 10:08 AM EDT2014-04-15 14:08:47 GMT
    KHQ.COM - Spring is a popular time for those looking to buy or sell their home! We found 15 homes currently for sale in Spokane and surrounding areas all priced at $175,000. These homes were found on WindermereSpokane.Com for more information on a particular property, contact your real estate agent with the correct MLS number.>>
    KHQ.COM - Spring is a popular time for those looking to buy or sell their home! We found 15 homes currently for sale in Spokane and surrounding areas all priced at $175,000. These homes were found on WindermereSpokane.Com for more information on a particular property, contact your real estate agent with the correct MLS number.>>
  • National NewsMore>>

  • Vietnam Sentences American Man To Death For Heroin

    Vietnam Sentences American Man To Death For Heroin

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 10:48 PM EDT2014-04-23 02:48:39 GMT
    HANOI, Vietnam (AP) - State media say a court in Vietnam has sentenced an American to death for heroin trafficking. The Liberated Saigon newspaper says Jason Dinh, 41, was convicted of trafficking 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of heroin at a one-day trial by Ho Chi Minh City's People's Court on Tuesday.>>
    HANOI, Vietnam (AP) - State media say a court in Vietnam has sentenced an American to death for heroin trafficking. The Liberated Saigon newspaper says Jason Dinh, 41, was convicted of trafficking 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of heroin at a one-day trial by Ho Chi Minh City's People's Court on Tuesday.>>
  • Family Sues N.J. District Over 'Under God' In Pledge Of Allegiance

    Family Sues N.J. District Over 'Under God' In Pledge Of Allegiance

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 10:21 PM EDT2014-04-23 02:21:31 GMT
    A family is suing a New Jersey school district, contending that the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance discriminates against atheist children.A family is suing a New Jersey school district, contending that the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance discriminates against atheist children.
    FREEHOLD, N.J. (AP) - A family is suing a New Jersey school district, contending that the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance discriminates against atheist children.>>
    FREEHOLD, N.J. (AP) - A family is suing a New Jersey school district, contending that the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance discriminates against atheist children. The lawsuit against the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District was filed in state court last month and was announced yesterday by the American Humanist Association. >>
  • South Korean Ferry: 113 Now Confirmed Dead, 190 Still Missing

    South Korean Ferry: 113 Now Confirmed Dead, 190 Still Missing

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 10:29 AM EDT2014-04-22 14:29:47 GMT
    JINDO, South Korea (AP) - As more bodies are recovered from a sunken South Korean ferry, the number of confirmed dead has reached 113, with about 190 people still missing. Meanwhile, four crew members who are accused of abandoning the ship and failing to protect the passengers have been arrested, three days after warrants were issued for the captain and two other crew members.>>
    JINDO, South Korea (AP) - As more bodies are recovered from a sunken South Korean ferry, the number of confirmed dead has reached 113, with about 190 people still missing. Meanwhile, four crew members who are accused of abandoning the ship and failing to protect the passengers have been arrested, three days after warrants were issued for the captain and two other crew members.>>