Earlier this week, a zoo in the Denmark capital killed a healthy giraffe despite thousands of people petitioning to save the young animal’s life. The reasoning that Copenhagen zoo gave for the murder of the animal was to avoid inbreeding. The animal was also autopsied, dismembered, and fed to the zoo’s lions, all in front of an audience including children. The zoo faced fierce criticism from animal lovers over the internet, despite its reasoning that there was not enough room for the giraffe in the zoo’s herd. Bengt Holst, a spokesman for the zoo told the media, “When giraffes breed as well as they do now, then you will inevitably run into so-called surplus problems now and then.” Although many other zoos around Europe had offered to take the giraffe in, the Copenhagen zoo refused.
There were also voices of concern over the method of killing the giraffe, and the public display of the autopsy, dismemberment and feeding of the animal. The giraffe was killed using a bolt gun, as opposed to lethal injection, which would’ve contaminated the giraffe’s meat. The corpse was used for research purposes and also to feed the carnivores living at the zoo, Holst stating that, “In this case we would never throw away 200 kilograms of meat.” Holst also noted that during the autopsy and dismemberment of the animal, the audience was, according to Holst, “very enthusiastic” and “the kids asked good questions.” Outrage by the public ensued even more upon learning that kids were there to witness what was being done to the giraffe.
The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria fully supported the zoo’s decision about the giraffe. Although the animal was completely healthy, the animal’s genes were well represented at the zoo. The zoo also justified the killing in order for them to remain a part of an international breeding program for animals. Even with the best of intentions, their actions still are in doubt and misunderstood as to why they had to take the animal’s life.