Zoo Dismembers Healthy Giraffe in Front of Visitors, Feeds Body to Lions

A controversial decision by a Danish zoo has enraged people after a healthy male giraffe was euthanized to prevent inbreeding and fed to the zoo’s lions.

When the plans initially surfaced, a petition aimed at saving the 2-year-old giraffe circulated online and generated more than 27,000 signatures. But a change of heart did not occur on the part of the zoo, as the petitioners had hoped it would.

Bengt Holst, scientific director at Copenhagen Zoo, told CNN “Our giraffes are part of an international breeding program, which has a purpose of ensuring a sound and healthy population of giraffes.  It can only be done by matching the genetic composition of the various animals with the available space. … When giraffes breed as well as they do now, then you will inevitably run into so-called surplus problems now and then” as a way to explain the decision to euthanize.

He also added “If we just sterilize him, he will take up space for more genetically valuable giraffes.”

But it seems space wouldn’t have been an issue. In addition to the online petition, several zoos volunteered to take in Marius — as the giraffe was unofficially named– in an attempt to save his life, including UK’s Yorkshire Wildlife Park, which has a state-of-the-art giraffe house and the space and capacity to bring in an extra male.

Instead, the zoo killed Marius by use of a bolt gun, then dismembered him in front of a zoo audience – which included children– and fed part of his carcass to the zoo’s lions, tigers and leopards.

Despite the online outrage, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, said in a statement that it supports the Copenhagen’s zoo’s decision.

Check out the news clip above or visit CNN for more on the story.

Feature Images:Kasper Palsnov/ AFP/ Getty Images