Marius, a healthy young giraffe, was shot dead and dissected in the presence of visitors to the gardens at Copenhagen zoo on Feb. 9. Credit: Reuters
Death threats sent to Copenhagen Zoo, which last weekend killed a healthy giraffe named Marius and fed it to lions in front of a young audience, have not deterred another Danish zoo from the same course of action.
Jyllands Park Zoo is seeking a female giraffe that would replace one of its two males – a 7-year-old, also named Marius. The zoo claims the animal could not stay without threatening the breeding program, and would be difficult to rehouse.
“If we are told we have to euthanize [the giraffe] we would, of course, do that,” Jyllands Park zookeeper Janni Løjtved Poulsen told Denmark's TV2, adding that she was “completely behind” Copenhagen Zoo’s decision.
An online petition demanding Jyllands Park “transfer [Marius] to alternative accommodation and spare his life" reached 4,000 signatures in a matter of hours.
A spokesman for animal welfare group Peta gave support for the campaign, saying, “Zoos keep animals on display like living museum exhibits and dispose of them when they become inconvenient."
In both cases, the zoos have justified euthanizing the animals by saying the specific breed is not endangered, so not a conservation priority. Further, were they to keep the giraffes, inbreeding would damage the health of the collective, zoo officials claim.
The explanation will not end the controversy. Just 13 percent of animals in European zoos are considered endangered, and there are growing questions over whether zoos have a positive effect on conservation efforts. Peta is demanding that funding be transferred to conservation in the wild initiatives.
Jyllands Park would not confirm whether they would feed Marius to other zoo animals, as in Copenhagen.