When Marius, a young male giraffe at the Copenhagen Zoo, in Denmark, was shot to death by his keepers a few days ago, it caused a global outrage. A few days later the Danish Jyllands Park Zoo has announced that their giraffe, ironically also named Marius, may also be killed.
Zoos advertise themselves as caretakers of animals, and saviours of endangered species, so why would a zoo kill a healthy, young giraffe, especially when people around the world were pleading for them to spare him?
Bengt Holst, the Copenhagen Zoo’s scientific director, says that Marius is not on the endangered species list, and the zoo already has a “surplus” of giraffes, especially males with genes similar to his. He does not fit into the zoo’s captive breeding program, or that of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria.
“Copenhagen Zoo’s giraffes are part of an international breeding programme which aims at ensuring a healthy giraffe population in European zoos. This is done by constantly ensur[ing] that only unrelated giraffes breed so that inbreeding is avoided,” Holst said in a statement on the giraffe’s death. “If an animal’s genes are well represented in a population further breeding with that particular animal is unwanted. As this giraffe’s genes are well represented in the breeding programme and as there is no place for the giraffe in the Zoo’s giraffe herd the European Breeding Programme for Giraffes has agreed that Copenhagen Zoo euthanize the giraffe.” At eighteen months old, Marius would soon have the urge to mate, and the zoo does not need any more surplus giraffes.
According to the zoo’s calculations, Marius was of more use to them dead than alive.
As if what the Copenhagen Zoo did to the first Marius was not horrific enough, Jyllands Park Zoo, wants to kill another giraffe for the same reason, because they are considered a “surplus” animal, and therefore, of no use to them. Apparently, they are trying to be more considerate to the public, and not exhibit the killing of the second Marius to park visitors.
Will Travers OBE, President of the Born Free Foundation said: “Born Free, and the majority of the right-thinking world, is appalled at the killing of Marius the giraffe. The slaughter of healthy animals by zoos must stop.” Travers added: “Zoos claim that their breeding programmes are contributing to conservation – I say: show me the evidence. If keeping and breeding threatened species are priority for zoos, why then do they keep mostly common species?” Research by the Born Free Foundation has shown that the majority of species kept in zoos are not threatened with extinction in the wild.
Virginia McKenna OBE, Founder of the Born Free Foundation said: “I am appalled by the decision to kill this poor, healthy young giraffe. This is an outrage that highlights the urgent need to look more closely at all zoos and the welfare of animals forced to survive in zoo enclosures. Now is the time for people throughout Europe to demand that no more captive wild animals suffer the same tragic fate.”
Marius needs everyone’s help to save him from experiencing the same fate as his namesake. Please sign the following petitions, and help to save this healthy and innocent giraffe from execution: