The Copenhagen Zoo is under major fire for putting a perfectly healthy giraffe to death in front of visitors, including children, and then proceeding to skin, slice and feed it to the zoo's lions. According to the Associated Press, the public event, promoted as a teaching exercise for the children, was well attended. (Warning: Some of the photos below might be upsetting to animal lovers.)
According to the zoo, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) recommended it put down Marius The Giraffe, because there were already too many giraffes with similar genes in the EAZA's breeding program. Plus, the Copenhagen Zoo already has seven other giraffes.
The Zoo went through with the euthanization even though more than 20,000 people signed an online petition to save Marius and one individual offered to buy the animal for $680,000. The zoo also refused offers from Britain's Yorkshire Wildlife Park because Marius' older brother lives there, and the Copenhagen Zoo's scientific director Bengt Holst didn't want Marius to take up space that could be used by a "genetically more valuable giraffe."
The zoo veterinarian, who shot the lethal bullet, described the killing in a similarly stark manner to Reuters:
The zoo veterinarian, said the giraffe was coaxed into a yard and over to a zookeeper, who held out rye bread - a food the giraffe was especially fond of, according to the video footage, which was distributed by Reuters TV. "I stood behind with a rifle, and when he put his head forward and ate the rye bread, then I shot him through the brain," he said. "It sounds violent, but it means that Marius had no idea of what was coming. He got his bread, then he died."
Zoo spokesman Tobias Stenbaek Bro was less than sentimental when defending the zoo's decision to show children the vicious circle of life, even when it includes the dismembering of giraffes with human names. "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." What a nice lesson in death and eugenics for our children.