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Killing Marius the giraffe showed the zoo truly understands kids - The Globe and Mail

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The giraffe was cuter than any death-row prisoner, of course. Those giant, trusting doe eyes! There’s a reason they sell so many stuffed giraffes in zoo gift shops, rather than, say, herring, which no one laments as they’re fed by the bucketful to hungry captive seals. The details of Marius’s end were poignant: He was considered surplus to breeding stock and would threaten the gene pool if he did procreate, and so by the rigid rules of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria he had to go. Marius was led to his death with the Judas kiss of his favourite snack, a piece of rye bread, then finished off with a bolt gun to the head. I haven’t been able to determine whether he got to eat the condemned giraffe’s last meal.

The greatest outrage was saved for the zoo’s decision to cut Marius into chunks in front of a crowd that included children. “Marius the giraffe butchered in front of children and fed to lions at Copenhagen Zoo” read the headline in the U.K. Mirror. People expressed horror that the poor children who witnessed the autopsy would be scarred forever.

I fear that none of them actually looked at the photos and video of Marius’s dissection: The kids in the crowd look fascinated. They aren’t grimacing or turning away in squeamishness. Children on their father’s shoulders crane their necks to see the action. They are, for the first and probably only time, privy to the enthralling sight of the inside of a giraffe.

Those pictures illustrate something that parents realize instinctively: Most children are hearty, macabre little beasts. They are as fascinated with the end of life as their parents are with the middle of it. Give them a dead fish on a riverbank, as I did with my kids last fall, and they will crouch over it and poke it with a stick as if the prodding will reveal the mysteries of creation. They are tiny, insatiably curious scientists until we chastise it out of them.

What. The...? 


When a storm of protest broke over the news that the giraffe was to be killed – 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. It explained 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 had unwanted side-effects and represented poor animal welfare, and that there was no programme for releasing giraffes into the wild.

The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, which monitors international standards and of which Copenhagen is a member, said it fully supported the decision of the zoo. It added that zoo animals were very rarely killed for conservation management, but almost always because of ill health.

"Our aim is to safeguard for future generations a genetically diverse, healthy population of animals against their extinction," it said in a statement. "Copenhagen is highly involved in these programmes and took a transparent decision that the young animal in question could not contribute to the future of its species further, and given the restraints of space and resources to hold an unlimited number of animals within our network and programme, should therefore be humanely euthanised."

Where was Imgur?

Anyway, this story totally f'd me up.  

They could have gave him the equivalent of a giraffe vasectomy.  They could have sold him to another zoo, or let him live out his life in a sanctuary.  Maybe they still would have had to put him down, but from what I've heard, they didn't even try to find an alternative.

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