An online petition to save the life of a young giraffe at Copenhagen Zoo is currently accumulating close to 2,000 votes an hour. But all the votes are in vain because the unfortunate animal was destroyed this morning in accordance with the zoo’s policy on in-breeding.
The zoo said it had taken the decision to kill the 18-month-old male giraffe Marius and feed him to some of his fellow animals in order to keep the giraffe population “genetically sound”.
"Giraffes today breed very well, and when they do you have to choose and make sure the ones you keep are the ones with the best genes," Bengt Holst, the scientific director at the zoo, explained to the BBC.
Marius one of many
Between 20 and 30 animals are put down in a similar fashion every year, added Holst. According to Ekstra Bladet tabloid, this has included bears, tigers and zebras.
Animal rights and social media commentators have reacted angrily to the news.
“The zoo have produced him so it is their responsibility to find him a home, no matter how long it takes,” argued Maria Evans, whose online petition at www.bit.ly/1o5j6Rr had, as of Sunday 1pm, attracted 26,000 signatures.
“They must not be allowed to take the easy option.”
Offers of salvation turned down
While Stine Jensen, from Denmark's Organisation Against the Suffering of Animals, said the organisation’s offer of help, along with many others from across Europe, was turned down.
“We offered to save his life,” she told the BBC. “Zoos need to change the way they do business”
The autopsy was public
Marius was killed by a bolt gun instead of a lethal injection, which would have contaminated the meat.
While most of him will be fed to the carnivores at the zoo, part of his carcass will be used for scientific research. Visitors to the zoo on Sunday were invited to attend the autopsy.