Outrage over Danish zoo killing healthy “surplus” giraffe, dissecting in front of kids, feeding it to lions

The Copenhagen, Denmark zoo is facing international outrage of the killing of a healthy two-year-old giraffe who was considered “surplus” – they apparently had too many giraffes, and that one wasn’t appropriate for breeding, so they shot it dead while it was eating its favorite snack, rye bread.

But what really spiked the outrage, the zoo then dissected the animal in front of schoolchildren, and fed its carcass to the lions, tigers and leopards.

The zoo director, Bengt Holst, didn’t do himself any favors in a recent appeared on a UK news program in which he seemed downright heartless about the killing of the otherwise healthy animal.

Copenhagen zoo director Bengt Holst.

Copenhagen zoo director Bengt Holst.

Holst tried to tell the reporter that this was no different than people shooting rabbits in England when the local bunny population gets too big. The reporter tried to explain that a giraffe was a little different than a rabbit.

“Who decides if it’s a pest or not,” Holst told the news show.

“You work with animals?”, the host asks.

“Yes,” Holst replied.

“Do you actually like them?” the reporter then asked.


It continues:

ZOO DIRECTOR: It’s just like a vaccination, actually. It hurts when you get the needle. But in order insure a better life after the vaccination, so you don’t get all the diseases. So sometimes you have to do something which is not so nice in order to achieve something which is very nice…

REPORTER: But one doesn’t tend to get dismembered and fed to the lions after a vaccination.

CNN reports the zoo is now getting death threats (gotta love the Internet, people always find a way to go too far – let’s express our outrage at the death of animal by promoting the death of a person).

(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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138 Responses to “Outrage over Danish zoo killing healthy “surplus” giraffe, dissecting in front of kids, feeding it to lions”

  1. Mirroria says:

    I wanna know how many of the children are going to go home and cut up cats and dogs now just for the sake of being curious.

  2. Mirroria says:

    I’m sure that’s exactly what Hitler said when he was trying to “purify” the human race from the Jews. “just one more common Jew who needs em”-right? Granted people are people and animals are animals but the logic is the same, just the subject matter has changed.

  3. Alfred Parkinson says:

    Holst is adopting a macro policy rather than getting bogged down with micro concerns. His rational judgement for the bigger picture is not being clouded by emotions. It’s refreshing to see someone who does not shield the public from the realities of the world. With the population explosion, carbon increases and global warming, it won’t be long before humans will be forced into a more macro way of managing our species, so get used to it.

  4. barbara peterlin says:

    Bengt Holst should be thrown out to cages and the big cats can eat him instead of giraffee, Marius. Bengt should go to hell now.

  5. ... says:

    Fact is, making it a pseudo-educational show out of butchery was the best excuse they could find. There are many things who are much worse than this when it comes to torturing and killing animals. But what happened to this giraffe is just a symbol of how valuable life is to humans. Maybe ’cause being intelligible animals makes them superior. The problem is not the small country where it happened and its population of humans. The problem is humanity itself.

  6. Ben says:

    Shooting a giraffe in the head with a bolt gun and feeding it to lions doesn’t replicate a natural hunt and kill. It was just convenient for this zoo to pretend they were replicating nature because it suited what they wanted to do.

    No value was placed on the life of this individual life because a flowchart dictated his genes didn’t suit a breeding program and the zoo manager wanted to perform a stunt to suit his own ends. How can that be explained to children? How can they understand it’s fine to kill and chop up the giraffe but the dog, cat, rabbit or hamster at home has to be shown more respect? Everybody likes to be clever with the Disney comparison, but don’t forget the stories are written to teach children to respect animals without hiding from what actually happens.

    Maybe it’s time we reflected on what we do to animals, whether it’s in the name of science, food or fun, rather than teaching our children it’s acceptable and normal. Or, if we’re going to be totally cold hearted about science and nature, why not just let animals fend for themselves and not worry if survival of the fittest wipes out a few species?

    Maybe we can go back to the good old days when executed criminals were dissected in front of an audience and let the children in on that. Or, in all seriousness, have public dissections of people who’ve donated their bodies to science and allow children to watch.

  7. rogerpenna says:

    those animals are RAISED to be used as food sources by humans. The only reason they are LIKE THAT is because they were artificially selected through breeding, by humans, to serve as food source. The only reason they are that numerous is that they serve as food source.

    I am certain not only giraffes are much more RARE than human food source animals, as also other zoos were interested in keeping that giraffe alive.

    So the whole question here is: was there ANY REASON to kill that giraffe? The animals you mention have a reason to be killed: they were bred, raised and killed to serve as food.

    the Giraffe could be sent to other zoos, so no reason to kill it.

  8. mick says:

    America the big bully of the world.. they invade countries, kill children with bombs, destroy families, dictate “the american way of life ” is the only life, they produce extreme violent video games and pornography, involve god in politics, are barbaric against their own if they dont have correct insurance etc etc etc etc…. of course they are trying to make some other peacefull and meaningfull nation seem barbaric, they need a break..some heat taken off their shoulders. i cant blame them. just sad it backfires because it showes exactly how hypocritical and without perspective they are…

  9. Tired says:

    1.Didn’t mention anything about natural or unnatural so I don’t know why you are.
    2. Equating a biology field trip with pedophiles!? Really? Regardless of your exaggeration, the results speak for themselves, Danish students leave American students eating dust when it comes to the sciences.
    3. My point flew completely over your head didn’t it? I was merle stating that the animals being imprisoned at Zoos is just as cruel as killing them, or any other thing we humans do to animals. I am addressing the hypocrisy of all you bleeding hearts.
    4. Godwin’s law strikes again… classy very classy. The education is in understanding the mechanics behind different kinds of living organisms. Damn you people have a medieval age view on dissection, it is ridiculous an early exposure to anatomy studies is vital for inspiring what professions people will choose later in life. You do realize that anatomical education all over the world require dissection of cadavers?

  10. kiiski says:

    There’s a British TV show called “Inside Nature’s Giants” (also called “Animal Autopsy”) where they dissect large animals, including a giraffe. It’s also been on National Geographic and PBS in the US. I haven’t seen any outrage over exposing children to animal dissection on TV- funny, that.

  11. nina says:

    Maybe is related to Adolph Hitler !

  12. nina says:

    This guy is a dick that can not ejaculate properlyv !!

  13. Hi says:

    Yes it has. Why is it cruel to show children how an animal looks on the inside? Because it looks cute?? It is the only way they can know. The only way to save nature is to truly understand it, and be logical about it. Why would children think that “animals have no value” if you explain the reasons for the dissection to them? Children need to know about nature as it is, and not in a fluffy disney version

  14. Ben says:

    A zoo has a responsibility to teach people about animal welfare from the point of view of looking after animals and caring for them as well as the unemotional concern over genetic diversity in breeding. Plenty of zoos keep animals that aren’t necessarily the best to breed from because it’s better for their image not to kill them and they care about the animals as living beings. Dissecting the giraffe in front of children may give them a biology lesson but it could just as easily teach them animals have no value as living creatures and killing them is all right, just as hunters and poachers and pet abusers think. The stubborn determination to kill Marius in the face of public outcry against it really hasn’t helped the overall public image of zoos either.

  15. Toke Eskildsen says:

    Actually, in Denmark there are arranged school tours to slaughter houses. Google translate should be able to help here: http://www.danishcrown.dk/Forbruger/Fakta-eller-poelsesnak/Om-besoeg-paa-slagteriet-i-Horsens.aspx They have installed windows so that kids from 4th grade can get a good view of the slaughter line. I am sure that smaller kids can borrow a chair or so.

    What some see as harmfully gory, others see as educational. What some see as protecting children, others see as hiding the truth. Different countries, different cultures.

  16. Dan says:

    But according to Dr. Mengel….sorry…the zoo director it was very very educational and positive experience for the kids.

  17. Dan says:

    I find it say “interesting” that they keep mentioning “natural”, “teaching circle of life” and then killing the giraffe with a bolt gun on the zoo premises and then dissecting it.

  18. Dan says:

    Of course not. Throw those critters out to the street after couple of days they are born. Show them the ways of nature.

  19. Dan says:

    First of all, there is nothing nothing natural in the zoo’s unnatural environment but that is more a comment against the ridiculous reasoning of its director rather than you.

    Second of all pedophiles love to use the same argument “Also let me emphasize chance, no children were forced in any way”, They too keep repeating how some child enjoyed what was done to them.

    Third “Zoos are not for the animals benefit but ours, simply another form of entertainment.”. So please decide are the zoos for entertainment or for education. If the zoos are for entertainment then essentially most of the people came to see the dismemberment of the giraffes as a form of entertainment and we know these type of people do exist with sick and twisted mentality.

    And forth, it is after all makes it “very educational” to take a breathing living creature that everyone just saw roaming around but that unfortunately didn’t fit into the “appropriate gene pool” and then kill it to show how it works. Reminds of a doctor working in Germany by the name Mengele.

  20. From a biological view says:

    your article says “The zoo director, Bengt Holst, didn’t do himself any favors in a recent appears on a UK news program in which he seemed downright heartless about the killing of the otherwise healthy ” which from a rhetoric view is wrong. Holst argues with logics and the reporter argues with pathos.The journalist desperately tries to get a story from a scientist that actually knows what he’s talking about. This is nothing more than media playing ignorant brains, a shame for society because it shows the low education level around the web. Holst arguments are from a biological viewpoint correct, and no feelings can change that.

    Stop hating an a respected scientist because you feel sorry for Marius. Keep your feelings and your biology apart it could really lift the lix number of the debate !

  21. Tired says:

    Lol Godwins law strikes again. Read the article, the giraffe was not only in surplus it was also inbred and no other Zoo under the EAZA laws would be able to take it in. Had the Copenhagen Zoo given it outside the EAZA they would have lost their membership, and thus any support for future projects.
    Good luck boycotting Danish goods, since our largest company Maersk, deals in shipping of goods. So either you will have to buy your goods locally(China) or go without your creature comforts.
    This whole case is silly, when you think about all the calamity in the world, all the people suffering worldwide, a cute animal gets all this attention. Fuck the Syrians, fuck the Palestinians and the Sudanese Christians, fuck the starving children of the world ect. 1 single cute little Giraffe baby died!!!! Oh the drama

  22. Tired says:

    A Zoo is the worst excuse for conservation effort ever, if we really wanted to save those animals that are threatened by extinction, we would have given them their natural habitats back. Not that I think we should, I am no bleeding heart hippie but at least I am not a hypocrite either.

  23. Tired says:

    I could not agree more with you Nilsson. I am not a vegetarian or animal rights activist by any measure, actually I am far from it, but I am no hypocrite. Humans are cruel to animals on so many levels that this case seems humane. Zoo’s are meant for our entertainment and nothing more, and Zoos all over the world do the same thing that happened to this Giraffe. All the outrage is ridiculous.

  24. Tired says:

    With the right to live in captivity? What a wonderful life…

  25. Butch1 says:

    This male was only two years old and had not reached adult hood. They said it would have grown at least another five feet in height. I rather doubt it would have left the herd in the wild at this age. There were other options and it could have been sold as there were many other begging to take this animal yet, the zoo was adamant on killing it. They could have neutered it stopping it from reproducing and letting it live out its life. It was born in captivity and could not be introduced into the wild. These animals should have more value than just being in some breeding program that we decide when they are valuable or not and then kill them. They have lives and are thoughtful beings as well. We should stop playing gods if we are not going to take care of these beautiful animals. This, in my opinion was a senseless death and no excuse is good enough.

    Rules are rules and they can be changed. Rules got us into trouble and into many huge wars. Many people said during the Nuremberg Trials that they were just following orders and rules. It’s time that we stop following mindless rules and order written by soulless people in this case, who need to just look into the eyes of these beautiful beasts for once instead of putting a rifle to their heads because they would rather take care of their population control instead.

  26. Johanna Janssen says:

    Holst should be hanged with his ugly sadistic face down.This beautiful animal did not have to die,whether or not it was not good enough to breed. It was a living breathing entity with a right to live. What the hell does Horst thinks he is… GOD????? Smash him out of his job this inbreed!!!!

  27. sane37 says:

    So the circle of life for a giraffe involves a zoo?
    This was a business decision, which are typically heartless, profit driven decisions.
    The zoo is a business.
    As soon as people realize this we can go about dismantling then and “conserving” those animals in their natural habitats instead of halfway around the world in a concrete tourist trap.

  28. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Before jumping in with your opinion, you may want to read what others have to say.

  29. nilson says:

    as a vegan i find all the criticism of the zoo extremely hypocritical. how about all the healthy pigs, cows, sheep, et al. that are brutalized and then slaughtered in the primes of their lives? oh you benefit from their deaths via cheap meat so that’s all A-OK.

  30. Tired says:

    I fail to see why American squeamishness should factor into the Zoo directors decisions. Since when was dissection not regarded as a method of education in biology? I remember last year there was a Lion and a wolf carcass dissection exhibition, no fuss there. I guess only cute animals get to attention.
    We like to maintain high education standards in Denmark so of course we offer them a chance to witness dissections. Also let me emphasize chance, no children were forced in any way. If we compare HDI and PISA education rankings of the two countries, its clear to see which educational system is functioning best. Every ranking you are 10-15 places behind, which is problematic when you spend on average over twice the amount of money per student. Practical learning is sometimes more effective than theoretical, as it can become too abstract.
    Also please consider that the Copenhagen Zoo is part of a breeding program with very strict rules and quotas, doing something against those guidelines would mean the end of any kind of foreign partnership.
    On a final note, if you are against what the CPH zoo did than you are against all zoos. You think Zoos are nice for animals? Being chained up in a foreign climate by a species that is constantly picking and prodding at you? Zoos are not for the animals benefit but ours, simply another form of entertainment. If you bleeding hearts really are torn about this, then I suggest you stop eating meat, stop going to Zoos free you pets ect. All that PETA bullshit. Because humanity in general is not what you would call “kind” to animals.

  31. Moderator3 says:

    That’s the default avatar for anyone who does not have one.

  32. Somebody says:

    That’s actually my biggest concern about all this. Not even the killing itself, but the fact that they made a show out of it. Those bright blond children looking impassively at the guts falling from the corpse… my first thought was, would it matter to them if it was a human?

  33. Somebody says:

    Judging by the avatar, you’re from the country whose Defense Minister (or whatever his position is called) Mr.Donald Rumsfeld said that “torture is a good way to get information”. I wonder if his daddy took him to the slaughter house as a kid.

  34. Boycott Danish goods! says:

    I can now see, why Hitler liked your country so much! But emotions aside, do you apply the same rules in maternity homes? Where do “surplus” babies go?

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  36. pablo says:

    Lions gotta eat.

  37. Naja pallida says:

    Giraffes don’t have the same kind of hierarchies that many other herd animals have. Their social structure is much more loose, and in the wild herd members, both male and female, come and go from the herd at will. They’re not territorial and typically there isn’t as much of the kind of male-male rivalry one associates with various other ruminants, and confrontations that do happen typically aren’t as violent. There is no way to know if he would have left or stayed – were they a wild herd – but simply reaching adulthood would not have been a reason for him to leave the group.

  38. idendoit says:

    Why? Zoos are a educational resource. If you go to one just to gawk at the animals, that’s a small fraction of what you are missing. They are also invaluable as a breeding resource for diversity of animal populations that are reintroduced to the wild. They are currently one of the few places where wild animal medicine can be studied and practiced.

  39. Ownoo says:

    They let the animals breed, if the animals want to. The goal of the breeding programs is to preserve the species, not to keep every single animal alive until it dies of old age like we do with pets. One problem is that animals leave their herds when they become young adults. When the animals cannot be relocated they end up as surplus. This is what happened with the giraffe.

  40. Ownoo says:

    No. The zoo had no room for the giraffe. In nature the giraffe would have left the herd, it being male and becoming an adult. The zoo is part of EAZA and a set of rules apply.

  41. cole3244 says:

    i vehemently disagree, we conserve for our benefit not theirs.

    we keep species alive then we exploit and misuse them then when it suits us we murder and exterminate them and discard them like chattel.

    its right there to see everyday and we still won’t admit the horror we force on innocent defenseless beings in the name of conservation and compassion when the reality is quite the opposite.

    humans are sociopaths to the eyes of other species.

  42. Blogvader says:

    One has to think there were better ways to handle this. I’d wager there’s a sanctuary somewhere who’d have taken the animal off of their hands, or they could have surgically disabled it’s ability to reproduce.

  43. Blogvader says:

    Point taken, but it’s important to point out that zoos are also on the forefront of conservation efforts, and due to their efforts, there are some species that haven’t gone extinct.

  44. cole3244 says:

    i have boycotted zoos and other entities that confine any creature for viewing and profit for at least 60 years and this is one example why. they have to over breed to have a body to show for viewing and when they make bad decisions this is the result, non humans deserve to be left alone in their own habitat but our species claims to be interested in saving them but its all about profit and nothing more than that.
    other species are nothing more than chattel with little real value.

  45. karmanot says:

    BINGO!!! LIKE!!!

  46. karmanot says:

    I imagine you teach your kids to clap when Bambie’s mother gets burned in a forest fire…..speaking of Disney. #snark

  47. karmanot says:

    “you still see Marius as a Disney character” Unfortunately, I see you as a Simpsons character.

  48. karmanot says:

    Stones? No. I prefer to throw boulders, so get out of the way.

  49. karmanot says:

    I saw a slaughter house as a kid. I remember the fear and smell of blood as the animals were herded into inescapable shoots, clubbed and slaughtered—–an idea that the German Nazis perfected for human beings. Don’t take your kids to slaughter housse. 60 years later I remember every horrific detail.

  50. karmanot says:

    “Jesus Christ” Speaking of Mr. God, and the entertaining spectacle of a crucifixion, no wonder animal slaughter is a fun moment for you and your kiddies. You would make a splendid barbarian.

  51. karmanot says:

    I hope you don’t have children or take then to INDIE to watch car wrecks.

  52. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Would it have been too much of a strain for you to read the second sentence in the article?

  53. Sam says:

    Clearly not all children are sheltered like the ones in the USA. This is the circle of life. The hand wringing over the presence of children rubs me the wrong way. Better to sanitize the realities of this world?

  54. Jakob says:

    The difference is that in this field Danmark is hugely behind, being a country with a relatively late urbanization and still a large farming industry wich like it or not gives some Danes a different perception of the standard of politically correctness today in most of the western world. I travel a lot for work in Europe and I have my family living in Denmark. You might like or not but this week in Germany, Switzerland and Italy the people I met saying I was coming from Denmark where disgusted for the exposure to children. The picture with the doctor with a microphone lecturing the crowd is very difficult to defend…It hurts being normally the Danes very conceited to have made such a mistake. In my view a partial fix is to dismiss the zoo director. Animal population control, if necessary, is not a show for kids!

  55. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Peddle your wares elsewhere. USA Today was not the only newspaper with that story. Unlike Sarah Palin, I don’t read “everything”. My local paper (Star Tribune) carried the same story.

    I am a vegan, and it does not matter to me if the animal has a name or not. I do not eat or use any animal products, because of the treatment of farm animals. Human beings need to be the voice of those that do not have voices. That includes humans that have no voices.

  56. CJ says:

    This Jeremy Clarkson-neanderthal-journalism is very cute when it is about cars that we will never be able to afford anyway, but when it is trying to be critical it becomes just tragic at best and downright offensive at worst!

  57. Butch1 says:

    My thoughts exactly.

  58. Butch1 says:

    They pretend there was nothing they could do. Sorry, all one had to do is neuter the two year old male and they could have kept it alive. There was no need in shooting this beautiful animal. What myopic thinking.

  59. karlInSanDiego says:

    Most people participate in some sort of animal husbandry. For me it is fish, salt-water reef tanks, and koi. I understand that farming koi involves culling. It’s done at an early age, but it’s still something I’m not thrilled about. In my tanks and ponds I do the best I can to respect all the living things I place there, and most that I don’t. When I discovered an adult crab ( he’d come into the tank as an invisibly small stow away crab who them matured) and realized he’d been killing my fish, I trapped him and killed him. So I think the difference may be if you let your populations breed at the zoo, you need a better plan than the kill them when they are 18 months old. Clearly they had been trying to move it unsuccessfully. It begs the question about whether they have any control currently to prevent another Marius from being born there.

  60. Jane says:

    No other way? Are you fucking retard? There were people trying to buy him. And stop your fucking bullshit. People die, does that justify murder? No, so shut your mouth.

  61. Anders Do says:

    And what does USA Today know about this? Did they have reporters there watching how parents – apparently like you think and like the article puts it – forced their kids(with ropes? did they handcuff them? how can they be forced?) to watch the autopsy? Dude. I fucking hate the world for making such a big deal out of this. ONLY BECAUSE IT’S A GIRAFFE!

    it is literally only because it’s a giraffe with a name.

    pigs are slaughtered by the millions everyday…. and most people eat bacon and so on, without a single thought into how the pigs are raised for the sole purpose of being eaten .

  62. Anders Do says:

    THIS IS FUCKING RIDICULOUS! Guys, Here in Denmark, we are not afraid to look at dead animals and in this case, the autopsy of a giraffe. It’s not tough for kids to see! Jesus Christ. Some kids in Africa watch their mother get raped and fathers get killed.

    I don’t like that we had to put down this giraffe, but there was NO OTHER WAY! all the offers from other ZOOs was not going to work out, since that would fuck up the population of the giraffe-family that Marius belonged to, thus endangering the health of the population of that species.

    Get over yourselves and stop crying just because it’s a giraffe. We are raising pigs, cows, chicken etc. only to be slaughtered and eaten. WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE!?!?!?!? and is that really more okay than what happened to Marius?!

  63. bejammin075 says:

    I have no problem with it. In fact, let’s take our kids to the slaughter houses and show them where the beef and pork they themselves eat comes from! Now that would be educational!

  64. mikerr says:

    Show children they can kill an animal just because they want. We don’t have books. We don’t have internet. Take a life to make a show. We need to teach some stuff that children will never need, except if they get to be biologists or something like that. Show some gore to kids that probably wanted cuddle the baby giraffe. Congratulations.

  65. Eric Jenkins says:

    I’m American, I disagree with the captivity of a large animal such as a whale, a lot of other Americans do as well. Try not to be so ignorant, hypocrites exist on all sides.

  66. Carol says:

    Right, judge a whole country because of a park. How smart you are. Let’s embrace cowardness and stupidity everywhere, instead of being better, because you have such amazing anti-american line. Let’s forget about the animal so you can feel satisfied. Now burn a flag, please. You’re awesome.

  67. Jena says:

    The problem is not the fucking name. The problem is a fucking life,
    wasted for vanity and pleasure, after a lot of trying to save that.

  68. Indigo says:

    Hopefully. The thing is that the deed is done and the impression of genuinely callous administration of the zoo is firmly embedded in the public’s mind. Too bad. Denmark doesn’t need that kind of public relations. It’s a nice place.

  69. MojoDK says:

    You’re closing your fucking eyes to your own backyard!

  70. MojoDK says:

    Becuase you whine over a giraff that has lived a perfect life until now, while you visit your themparks like SeaWorld – did you even see the documentary Blackfish??? Don’t whine about an animal that had a great life, whine about the animals that daily is molested in american amusementparks!!

  71. Jenny says:

    This didn’t happen in the USA. So how is the USA being hypocritical?

  72. Thaarup says:

    My previous Explanation” still stands…The lions still need to eat.
    I don´t know if my comment was “sharky” but it seems to me a bit odd that a lot of people get angry about killing a single Giraffe but doesn´t care about the thousands of other animals that get killed every day and often those animals live a rather pathetic life compared to that of this Giraffe.

  73. Jont_Musiteur says:

    Yep we’ve already been there. Yes famous animals get Disney character status, that’s what zoos live from. Without that they’d be a bunch of wild animals cooped up in cages and nobody would want to see them.

    Ok I’m exaggerating, but only a little.

  74. MojoDK says:

    That’s because you still see Marius as a Disney character. All zoos around the world kills surplus animals … ALL ZOOS!

  75. Jont_Musiteur says:

    The only thing that he’s educated the public about is his utter lack of people skills. To be fair, that’s not uncommon among people that work with animals.

  76. MojoDK says:

    Yes, problem is that Marius had a name – without that, he was an animal (like the others).

    The zoo director is not here to please the public, he’s here to educate the public.

  77. Jont_Musiteur says:

    Zoos have to kill animals for a variety of reasons on a regular basis – but that isn’t the problem, it’s a human one. Marius had a name.

    Call it irrational, call it what you like, but the hard and probably unpleasant job of animal management is only the one side of running a zoo. The other is providing an escape for families and a day out for the kids. Famous animals at zoos catch the public imagination in utterly irrational ways, and a zoo director has to know this or he’s in the wrong business. Zoos earn their existence from the refuge and escape from reality they provide, not from the inevitably less feel-good back story.

  78. MojoDK says:

    Why? English zoo killed several lion cubs not long ago … world didn’t care!! Goggle it ffs – it happens all over the world. Zoo in Denmark just talks open about it!

  79. MojoDK says:

    It’s not OK to kill a giraf to safe the genetic speices, but it’s OK to keep killerwhales in bathtubs in SeaWorld???? … Sometimes USA you can be such hypocrites! As we sa here …. Don’t throw stones if you live in a glasshouse!!!!!

  80. Jont_Musiteur says:

    Callousness? Lack of judgment? As a zoo director he should have known he’d be sparking an outrage (there was a zoo scandal in Sweden last year that he must have known about), and the planned killing was already on the public radar… so why did he do it? Internal resignation, sick of being a zoo director? Thought he’d be seen as a wuss if he gave in to public (and possibly private) pressure? I’m curious.

  81. Sarah says:

    Maybe because of the public shocking cruel exposition

  82. Carol says:

    Idiots always wait for a moment like that to ask “do you eat meaaat?”. A lot of people does. It’s enough destruction. If you can save a little life instead of condemn all the world, please just do it. Don’t be a jerk.

  83. Carol says:

    Hope those children forget about being that disrespectful about animals. Hope they understand that this is not how people should be.

  84. Ninong says:

    What happened to your previous explanation: “So if you don´t want the giraffe to die what animal should die instead – the lions have to eat something?”

    You’re no longer using that snasrky response? What happened?

    The Copenhagen zoo’s official explanation is that they decided to “cull” this animal because it was “surplus.” They already had other reticulated giraffes with similar genetic makeup and therefore didn’t want to have to maintain this “surplus” animal its entire life.

    Other zoos offered to take it off their hands and a wealthy businessman offered to pay the zoo 500,000 euros but they refused. Their excuse was that they didn’t want this animal contributing to the available reticulated giraffe gene pool. In other words, this animal’s frozen sperm wouldn’t help them if in the future they wanted to avail themselves of some other zoo’s available sperm.

    Unofficially they commented that another reason for their decision was that they weren’t going to let others tell them how to run their zoo. Once a decision had been made, they were going to stick to it.

  85. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    No, they were afraid of inbreeding. In other words, the giraffe had the audacity to be related to other giraffes in the zoo.

    They can neuter horses, so I don’t see why they couldn’t neuter a giraffe.

  86. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    From USA Today: “Marius, an 18-month-old giraffe, was killed by a gunshot Sunday at the Copenhagen Zoo and fed to lions in full view of zoo visitors. It was even broadcast via the internet.”

    Many parents decided in would be just wonderful for their children to watch such a thing. Those children had no choice.

    No, I don’t eat any meat.

  87. emjayay says:

    Schoolchildren were not forced to watch the cutting up of the giraffe and feeding it to lions. It was all done out of view of the general public.

  88. emjayay says:

    They did not kill the giraffe in front of people. They made the cutting it up and the lion eating it available for viewing for those who wanted to see it, out of the view of the general public.

  89. emjayay says:

    As he explained, it was of a genetic variety that was not wanted for diversity purposes. If a zoo has room and money for 4 giraffes, as he explained they would have to not have one that us needed for diversity in order to have the undesired one.

  90. Drew2u says:

    “You can’t just bring a living being into the world, and then offload it as soon as it becomes an inconvenience to your plans. There isn’t something much more disgusting than Craigslist pet ads.”
    I usually just call them pro-lifers.

  91. Drew2u says:

    Like the murdering of the endangered rhino, a while back, in order to raise money to save that endangered rhino species?

  92. Drew2u says:

    We always name the cows we raise. With that said, I’ll admit I forget which one we have in the freezer right now.

  93. Drew2u says:

    Way off topic, but is it true that child poverty in the U.S. has hit record highs? The BBC is reporting as such, but I don’t think I’ve heard anything about it.
    The closest I heard was a state with windfall/surplus money thinking about putting it towards education but a Republican blathering about “Do we need to make government bigger?”.


  94. karmanot says:

    It does give trolls a chance to be imbeciles. he he

  95. karmanot says:

    Is this national troll day or what? Seriously

  96. Naja pallida says:

    The zoo that said they’d take him was in the UK, but we don’t really know if that zoo already had female giraffes that were related to him. It is highly unlikely that they would have ever sold to a private individual, no matter what he claimed he wanted to do with it. In captive breeding programs maintaining genetic diversity is of paramount importance, and they didn’t want to risk inbreeding. That would have just resulted in more animals they would have to put down. Zoo breeding programs are often quite strict in that regard. I don’t really understand what they were thinking by doing it in front of the public. There’s nothing educational in seeing such a thing.

    Anyway, I don’t want to make it sound like I’m defending them at all, I think the practice is ridiculous. My opinion on the matter is that if you’re going to breed animals, no matter who you are or what you’re breeding, you bring upon yourself a responsibility to make sure those animals are properly cared for the entirety of their lives. You can’t just bring a living being into the world, and then offload it as soon as it becomes an inconvenience to your plans. There isn’t something much more disgusting than Craigslist pet ads.

  97. The_Fixer says:

    I hate to go “Think of the Children” about this, but I wonder what the ages of the kids were who witnessed this?

    It’s one thing if they’re high-school age, but were they young kids? Would anyone here like to be the parent of the kid who has nightmares about this?

    AndyinChicago has a point about educating people about this. But there’s also age appropriateness involved in all of this. Teaching a very young kid about this when they’re not ready could be pretty traumatic.

    And I wonder if they ever considered relocating the giraffe to a non-local zoo? There was a guy willing to pony up quite a bit of coin here – that could certainly have covered the cost.

    All in all, this was poorly handled. Yeah, i know it’s the circle of life and all, but there’s right ways and wrong ways to do things. This was the wrong way.

  98. The_Fixer says:

    Perhaps you’d like to link to a story with that information rather than be snarky about it.

  99. Thaarup says:

    One of the reasons was the breeding program. The zoo have to follow the rules.

  100. Thaarup says:

    If you read a little about the case you would know why they did not sell it, and why it was not an option…try getting the whole picture.

  101. Naja pallida says:

    In the grand scheme of things, exotic animals are a relatively minor problem that could be dealt with much more sensibly by states. They just refuse to, because they’re being led by fear and outrage, stirred up by highly paid lobbyist groups, not by common sense.

    The case in Ohio was particularly ridiculous, but definitely not the kind of incident that is likely to be a repeat problem. The state knew there were issues with that facility, and the owner, long before his problems turned into a public hazard, and did nothing.

  102. Naja pallida says:

    My issue isn’t that it is insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but that it is standard operating procedure for zoos across the world. Has been for a very long time. And people are just getting concerned now at a particularly egregious case, instead of looking at the bigger picture of how we keep animals in captivity.

  103. Rick Roberts says:

    We should not have zoos at all.

  104. Drew2u says:

    Sidenote: it’s amazingly frustrating that the health and safety of exotic, endangered animals, isn’t a “priority” for state legislatures – see that nothing has been done from that private collection in Ohio that was released on the public and the animals having to be put down.

  105. Naja pallida says:

    Ah, well. I don’t know how to account for that. Aside from non-accredited facilities and breeders able to break away from the science and just do whatever they think works. Plus, many animals bred for the private market are actually bred on preserves where the animals have some measure of autonomy, so have more natural behaviors, and the offspring are just collected after they’re born and close to weaning. Some species, like snakes or foxes, have been bred in captivity for many, many years so people have just figured out what works. The private market is a mishmash of whatever keeps the money flowing.

  106. idendoit says:

    Now your talking. Everyone that consumes animal byproducts of any kind, it’s a lot more than you think, should have a hand in the slaughter. I say this as an omnivore that grew up on a farm. I hand raised a few generations of chickens and even grew fond of some of the girls. in the end it’s appallingly wasteful not to consume them.

  107. idendoit says:

    Does that include the petting zoo. Because in the zoo I worked in that was one source for carnivore food. Them cute babies grow up you know.

  108. Drew2u says:

    No, I get that. There’s a big cat sanctuary (relatively) close to me. What I mean is, it seems like it’s always a trial and a huge, difficult ordeal for a zoo to get species to produce viable offsprings whereas the uncredited private collections seemingly, at least with the bad ones, the animals breed like winter at a trailer park.

  109. Naja pallida says:

    Confiscated privately owned exotic animals are almost never taken in by accredited zoos, regardless of species or rarity. Without a health history and genetic information, they’re essentially useless to an organized breeding program. Most of those animals end up either placed in a sanctuary, where breeding is greatly discouraged, or euthanized.

    Likewise, animals from an accredited zoo almost never make their way onto the private market, or to privately operated sanctuaries. No matter how professional or experienced those private entities may be. Euthanasia is their only option whenever there is no other accredited zoo within reasonable traveling distance willing to take a “surplus” animal.

    If a zoo strays from the rules of their accreditation agency, they can lose their status and thus lose large amounts of funding and support, as well as animals that may be on loan. So they tend to be pretty strict.

  110. Ninong says:

    Very poor judgment from a public relations point of view but I don’t think the zoo director realizes that. Maybe a boycott of the zoo would get the point across?

  111. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    i suppose compasionatehumanbeingsblog was already taken.

  112. Ninong says:

    It was not a matter of poor genetics. It was a perfectly healty animal. The only problem was that the Copenhagen zoo said they already had enough of this species and didn’t want to maintain this one any longer. It’s not an endangered species or even a threatened species in Africa.

  113. Sam says:

    The zoo was in the business of saving the species, not an individual. Apparently it had poor genetics.

    With that said, my preferred option would be for the lions to eat it. A psychological boost for those predators – a chance for them to regain some dignity and exercise their primal instincts. To kill it and then feed it to them seems slightly pointless.

  114. Ninong says:

    Other zoos offered to take it but they were turned down. A very wealthy individual offer to buy the giraffe for 500,000 euros ($683,455) but the Copenhagen zoo refused! More than 30,000 people signed a very rushed petition pleading with the zoo to not kill the giraffe but they were ignored.

  115. Naja pallida says:

    Few people ever want to know where commercially available meat comes from. We’ve carefully insulated people from understanding the food chain. Most people definitely wouldn’t want to know that most of the meat for the big carnivores in zoos is horse meat. Beef is secondary, but is generally considered too fatty and not the right nutritional balance so it’s often mixed with horse, and other things. Then there’s the rabbits and smaller things for the raptors and reptiles.

  116. Ninong says:

    Several zoos offered to take the giraffe. In fact, a wealthy concerned citizen offered to buy the animal for 500,000 euros ($683,455) and donate it to one of those other zoos but the Copenhagen zoo refused!

  117. Quilla says:

    Oh, my head.

    Of all the real injustices in the world people are upset over this blip in the screen?

    It happens but, seriously, never name the animals you’re going to slaughter.

  118. Drew2u says:

    I find it weird/funny that zoos can’t, say, keep a healthy breeding program for tigers – that healthy baby tiger cubs born in zoos are rare – yet impounded private … pets? … as far as what’s been newsworthy, can’t stop the animals from breeding continually.

  119. Naja pallida says:

    The practice of euthanizing healthy “surplus” animals is pretty much universal in zoos. So there is some international carryover. Besides, the blog has always had stories of interest to Americans, not just stories about Americans and American topics.

  120. Indigo says:

    Poor judgment!

  121. idendoit says:

    And where does the steady diet of meat for the lions come from? Unhealthy animals? The guy should have asked the reporter if he consumed animal byproducts at all.

  122. Rick Roberts says:

    Hehe? Really?

  123. Rick Roberts says:

    Nothing about a zoo is the circle of life. Do you read?

  124. Rick Roberts says:

    Yes, it is an outrage because zookeepers put these poor creatures on display for the rest of us and then decide which of them get to live and die. It’s horrible and barbaric. We should just leave them alone and protect them from the savages who will not leave them alone.

  125. Truckloadbear says:

    It’s not like they threw the damn thing on a grill and asked the kids “Rare, medium or well done?” THE CIRCLE OF LIIIIIIFE!

  126. guest4343 says:

    Whats this have to do with america, america blog? hehe

  127. UncleBucky says:

    Well, I still can’t wonder why they couldn’t have removed it from the breeding system and then gave it to another zoo. Honestly.

  128. Naja pallida says:

    Not that I want to start a big debate on it, but PETA supports, and participates in, animal euthanasia. When their practiced stance has been that they’d rather see animals dead than in any form of captivity, it’s hard to take them seriously as an animal ‘welfare’ group.

    Even the AZA agrees that zoos across the board don’t do nearly as much as they could to actually educate the public about animals. But I don’t really see how anyone was educated by this display, nor by the subsequent explanation of their actions.

  129. Naja pallida says:

    There’s actually a sanitizing term for this, zoothanasia. It’s practiced in every accredited zoo around the world. Now, most zoos are sensible enough to not kill animals in front of zoo patrons, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen all the time, with every species you can think of – large and small. Both the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, and the Association of Zoos of Aquariums in the US support the policy of euthanizing any animals that are surplus in their genetic diversity plans. They also often put down hybrid animals, as inferior. And discourage the keeping of any animals which cannot be bred. One of the more disgusting practices is that they generally keep “surplus” baby animals, because baby animals are a huge draw for all zoos. They wait until they’re old enough to be on their own, and then euthanize them. American zoos tend to favor birth control methods to this kind of behavior, but it still happens. Copenhagen Zoo actually kills about 20 to 30 perfectly healthy animals every year for this reasoning, and has for decades. It is nothing new. It’s just publicized now because they were silly and did it in front of the public.

  130. quax says:

    “Gotta love the Internet, people always find a way to go too far – let’s
    express our outrage at the death of animal by promoting the death of a

    Kinda see your point, but look at the bright side, at least nobody suggested to feed him to the lions.

  131. mamazboy says:

    I can’t remember when I’ve read anything so weird as

    “Seeing the inside of a machine or an organism should make you marvel at how cool and amazing life is, and it’s good to encourage kids to feel that sense of wonder and amazement.”

    So the giraffe’s life is so “cool and amazing” it makes sense to end it, and brutally? Do you honestly believe children learn a useful lesson seeing this kind of slaughter? I imagine it might be more traumatic than anything else; it surely wouldn’t instill a “sense of wonder” at “life.” There were plenty of more sensible and humane options for that giraffe that didn’t require this gruesome, heartless act, including other zoos willing to purchase it and a guy who offered nearly $700,000 for it, which surely would have gone a long way toward the zoo’s operating costs. I find appalling the ease with which some commenters here simply dismiss the ethical and moral concerns around the succession of vicious acts in the killing of this giraffe.

  132. AndyinChicago says:

    I always used to feel bad when the PETA people would hand me a pamphlet when I got off the El, and I’d say, “It’s all good. I’m a vegan.” I never lied, but I usually was coming home from work in a lab that did animal research. I myself didn’t ever kill a mouse, but I worked with various tissues. Animal research is tricky; it needs to be done minimally and it needs to have a clear purpose, but when it’s done in pursuit of saving human lives, I don’t see many alternatives.

    The feeding to the lions and the dissection in front of children does not bother me. That’s what you should do. Lions need to eat, and if they weren’t fed that girafffe, they would have been fed a cow. Lions, like most cats, are obligate carnivores, meaning they cannot eat a vegetarian diet and remain healthy. If not this large mammal, it would have been another.

    Animal dissection is also something that I feel is a good thing; kids need to see how living things work. It’s not magic; there’s intricate tissues and organs that work together to make something live. It’s especially true to realize what these components are if you eat meat. There’s nothing more upsetting to me than a person who eats hamburgers but can’t stand the sight of blood. Seeing the inside of a machine or an organism should make you marvel at how cool and amazing life is, and it’s good to encourage kids to feel that sense of wonder and amazement. I like the guy; he seemed to be really doing this for science education.

    The only moral gray area is why they had to kill the giraffe in the first place. Maybe captive giraffes don’t fair well when released. He said other local zoos were not adequate to take on the giraffe, and I feel we have to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one. Maybe they could not find alternative housing and the herd was becoming way too large. If there was no other way to properly care for the giraffe, then this doesn’t seem appalling.

    That said, screw the interviewer. Do you like them? F that guy. Educating people is important for saving organisms. “But one doesn’t tend to get dismembered and fed to the lions after a vaccination.” is also misstating the situation and purposely misunderstanding the interviewee. This is biased interviewing.

  133. RexTIII says:

    Zoo’s in general, are problematic on so many levels. Holst doesn’t sound like a fool to me, his English is reasonably good, but his inflection is off and this Channel 4 fella, is purposely pushing this conversation with negative intention. There is an important background story to this, seemingly obvious reasons for a quick uninformed emotional reaction, no doubt about it. Holst makes very valid points while attempting to avoid the pitfalls being created in front of him, whether or not there are 5000 petition signers. While i sure don’t like the whole idea starting with the Zoo itself, it is most likely a reasonable animal oriented Zoo given the scrutiny in Europe, maintaining quality of life to the greatest degree possible is not an easy task. The ‘kids’ watching – in this, a zoo scenario – doesn’t seem right, but then really, doesn’t seem wrong. Zoo’s aren’t without the cost of life for the animals, perhaps it will be these same children who eventually improve the life of these gorgeous creatures by no longer containing them in a Zoo in the first place. I doubt it was just done without any regard to having younger people there, observing, also not clear from the info in the article or the video.

  134. Brian Stroup says:

    Are you in the “Just because lions have sharp teeth doesn’t mean they eat meat” camp now?

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