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Sunday 18 February 2018

Irish welfare organisation slams giraffe killing at Copenhagen Zoo

Marius’ body: before being dissected
Marius’ body: before being dissected
Children watch as Marius, a male giraffe, is dissected, at the Copenhagen Zoo. AP
People protest outside Copenhagen Zoo where Marius a male giraffe, was put down on Sunday. AP
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

The CEO of the ISPCA, Dr Andrew Kelly, has said the decision by Copenhagen Zoo to euthanise a young giraffe, and dissected in front of a group of spectators, was “wrong on a number of levels”.

“It is a real shame that the giraffe had to be euthanised, and particularly that it was dissected in front of children.”

“The zoo themselves allowed the giraffes to breed knowing that the giraffe would be surplus to requirements.

And yet they seemed to have no trouble with the baby giraffe 18 months ago when the public were queuing up to see the giraffe,” Dr Kelly told

The decision to destroy 18-month-old Marius sparked an online global petition that achieved thousands of signature in attempt to change the minds of the zoo's management.

However despite a number of seemingly valid re-homing offers, Copenhagen zoo went ahead and put Marius down, in front of a watching crowd.

Dr Kelly maintains that acts like these put the concept that zoos are in place for conservation and educational purposes “in question”.

“Giraffes are unlikely to survive in the wild when they are released, so the aim of conservation then becomes questionable.”

“Furthermore, as regards what the slaughter of the giraffe could have taught those children who were watching it being dissected, well, that was the wrong message to send to anybody”

“The animal probably didn’t suffer during the euthanasia but from an ethical and moral perspective, Copenhagen Zoo has really let themselves down badly,” he added.

Copenhagen Zoo's scientific director Bengt Holst told Newstalk's Pat Kenny this morning that the controversy the killing has sparked shows how far away from nature we have come.

“When animals breed well, you run into a situation where you have a surplus now and then. And he (Marius) became surplus to the population – and then he was culled – as you do every day in nature”

“If it is also not a potential breeder – not a match genetically – you cannot dilute a healthy population. You have to be practical and manage the population according to scientific ways,” he said this morning.

Born Free’s Chris Draper said he finds the attitude of Copenhagen Zoo “very upsetting and, quite frankly, very arrogant”.

“It is very difficult to get an accurate picture of how often this sort of culling occurs as mostly it is done behind doors.  It is very rare that you hear about it in advance – as in the case of the giraffe Marius,” the scientific researcher at the wildlife charity told

“However, I strongly suspect that this happens a lot on zoos all across Europe.”

The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) policy have backed the zoo’s position. But Draper believes that “questions need to be asked” as “zoos are beginning to believe their own hype”.

Dublin Zoo has also commented on the killing of the young animal, issuing the following statement:

“Dublin Zoo does not agree with the euthanasia of a young healthy giraffe which took place at Copenhagen Zoo.

We were very saddened to hear that this occurred despite the fact that there were zoos willing to take the animal”.

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