Yesterday was the darkest of days for animal advocates, who awoke to the news that Marius, a healthy baby giraffe had been shot in the head as he enjoyed a favorite snack, and then skinned before a group of children, as a teachable moment, before his remains were fed to lions.
And where did this happen? As you probably know by now, the slaughter of this innocent animal happened where you think he would be safe: in a zoo. Thankfully, not an American zoo, although American zoos are not immune to questionable treatment of animals, including recent problems in the National Zoo. Many animal advocates are not fans of zoos.
This horrible incident is just another example of the wanton disregard humans have for other animals as disposable objects. Carnivorous humans see other animals simply as objects to be used for food, fun, clothing, entertainment, or recreation before being discarded when the animals become inconvenient or expensive, which is especially true for animals called pets.
What was so horrible about this incident yesterday is that those of who really cared could do nothing to stop it. The hopeless impotency of what has become known as the “animal movement” to improve animals lives on earth was crystallized.
There is not much we can do to save animals from suffering. We cannot stop cruelty that happens before our very eyes. Everyday people throw puppies from cars, discard horses like trash, and brutalize farm animals—or they do worse to kill viable, innocent, and often loving animals.
No, this probably would not have happened in America—not where we could see it anyway—but animals will never get fair treatment in a world run by humans.
Try as they may, even animal rescue organizations are incapable of making a real difference. The enormity of the problem requires a complete transformation of human consciousness, impossible without a veritable biblical flood or fire.
Telephone calls yesterday to several animal rights organizations that deal with international issues revealed shared outrage and dismay, but no plan or suggestion for next steps or push-back. Only the much-aligned People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals prominently spoke out against Marius’ death.
After silence from the organizations I support, I am ready to stop my regular donations. What good is the money? Marius is dead. The contributions that I regularly and faithfully send to these organizations did nothing to save him and can do nothing to prevent the same thing from happening again—home or abroad. We have horse slaughterhouses in American again, after all, and the fight still rages.
The shared fury and hope of those who signed a petition to save Marius failed. The offer of another home for Marius failed. Marius is dead. Thanks to the Danish zoo, he didn’t make it to even two of the possible 25 years he could have had in the wild. Ironically, captivity promises even longer life span for giraffes.
I have been fortunate to see a giraffe in the wild. They are awkward looking but striking animals who appear always ready to topple over, but whose strong, endless legs allow them to run up to 35 miles per hour, and whose substantial hooves give them the ability to defend themselves from their many fearless predators. They have surprisingly long, luscious eyelashes not fully visible in most photographs, lashes that frame bold, beautiful eyes. I cannot stop thinking about Marius and how beautiful his eyelashes must have been.
Then I think about the horror of him being shot in his innocence and torn apart in front of Danish school children, of only five and six years of age. Wouldn’t you love to find out how that little demonstration affects them as they mature? I can’t imagine that display will foster compassion for animals. Petitions now call for the firing of the zoo’s director. Good luck with that, is all I can say.
I am angry, hurt, and despondent over this egregious show of unnecessary animal cruelty. In a week that included the revelation that the Taliban had kidnapped DaGarwal, (nicknamed Colonel) a British military dog, the death of Marius is much to endure.
These posts usually end with the words "together we can make a difference." I really used to believe that.