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Giraffe lions: Zoo boldly kills young animal to feed lions before visitors

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A giraffe was fed to the lions in a very public manner at Copenhagen Zoo on Saturday. After a fiery battle between the zoo and animal rights activists, the zoo did what they wanted.

NY Times reports Feb. 9 that Marius, a two-year-old giraffe that was in perfect health, was killed with shotgun, dissected in front of zoo visitors for education, then fed to the lions.

A petition of over 30,000 online signatures to save the animal..in addition to offers to adopt or buy him. In the end it did not save Marius. The zoo went through with their mission.

Why did the zoo kill the giraffe for lions?

Zoo administrators said Marius' genes were "already well represented among the captive giraffe population in European zoos." In other words, they worried about inbreeding. It is not understood why they would kill a young giraffe and not an older one if they felt they had to do it.

Animal Rights Sweden want people to boycott the zoo for this action.

"It is no secret that animals are killed when there is no longer space, or if the animals don’t have genes that are interesting enough,” the group said in a statement.

“A giraffe is not a pet; it’s not like a dog or cat that becomes part of the family,” said Bengt Holst, the Copenhagen Zoo's scientific director. “It is a wild animal.”

According to the report regarding the giraffe lions controversy, Mr. Holst refused to move Marius to another zoo facility because of inbreeding -- "and potentially removed a place for a giraffe whose genetic makeup was more valuable in terms of future offspring in captive breeding programs."

Mr. Holst feels the public's outrage that has mounted is “totally out of proportion.”

Death threats have been directed to the zoo.

So, why would the zoo decline individual offers even if it meant a lot of money? Mr. Holst said it had to do with giraffes being social animals and it that it was not a good idea to keep the isolated.

A shotgun blast to the giraffe in order to feed the lions seemed like a cold method to kill the graceful animal. Apparently that was done so the meat would be safe enough for the big cats to eat. Euthanasia would have gone through the giraffe's system and could have potentially harmed the predators.

This is a sad story to say the least. There had to be some other way to deal with Marius, especially where he was so young. Watching the giraffe be fed to the lions had to be a traumatic experience to some degree for zoo visitors.

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