Categorized | Columns, Opinions

Keepin’ It Real: Marius The Giraffe – Martyr for Animal Rights

Posted on 12 February 2014 by admin

Writer Jake Hunn explores the controversy of Marius the Giraffe

Jake Hunn

Jake Hunn

Opinions Editor

Marius, an 18-month-old giraffe at the Copenhagen Zoo in Denmark has sparked worldwide outrage. Animal rights activists have turned to the Internet to express their views on a decision made by zoo officials to euthanize the animal. Scientific director Bengst Holst said, “When giraffes breed as well as they do now, then you will inevitably run into so-called surplus problems now and then.” Critics far and wide have shamed zoo for its decision. Holst defends the killing of Marius stating that the animal posed the threat of inbreeding on their “sound and healthy giraffes.” Marius’ body was used for a public autopsy after which his remains were fed the zoo’s big cats. The fact that Marius was himself a member of the population of healthy giraffes, which he was killed in order to preserve, poses serious moral questions concerning the zoo’s decision.

Upon reading of Marius’ situation, the first question that came to mind was: why not transfer the animal to a different zoo? Britain’s Yorkshire Wildlife Park offered to do just that. However, the zoo declined the park’s offer to provide refuge for Marius. The zoo’s refusal to send Marius packing only reveals that the Copenhagen Zoo values their success as a business more than the lives of the animals they “care” for. What is it that the world needs to know about giraffes that we cannot read in an encyclopedia that would justify killing a young and healthy specimen who would have almost certainly made a positive contribution to the community—fellow giraffes and animal-lovers alike.

The Copenhagen Zoo has shown disloyalty to its animals and has only provided significant evidence that a zoo is (in most cases) a profitable organization always looking to increase its income. I, for one, will no longer be able to pay a visit a zoo without first paying respect to Marius by knowing how my contribution affects the living conditions of the animals that call the zoo home.


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