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Dublin: 13 °C Sunday 5 July, 2020

Zoo kills healthy young giraffe despite protests

The giraffe’s body will be fed to tigers at the zoo in Copenhagen.

Image: AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam

A DANISH ZOO has come under heavy criticism after euthanising a healthy giraffe, despite a campaign to save it.

More than 27,000 people signed a petition and demonstrators protested outside the zoo to stop the killing of the six-month-old giraffe called Marius.

Copenhagen Zoo said it put the animal down this morning because of European laws on inbreeding. The zoo’s scientific director said that euthanasia is used to keep a healthy giraffe population in European zoos.

However animal-lovers reacted angrily to the killing of the giraffe. Danish newspaper BT reports that zoo employees have received death threats by phone and by mail.

The giraffe was fed some rye bread just after 9am today before it was shot in the head. Its body will be fed to tigers and other animals at the zoo.

“This is done to constantly ensure that only unrelated giraffes breed so that inbreeding is avoided,” said Bengt Holst, the zoo’s scientific director. “If an animal’s genes are well represented in a population further breeding with that particular animal is unwanted”.

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The same method is used in deer parks where deer are culled to keep the populations healthy.

The zoo ruled out suggestions that the giraffe could just be released into the wild or transferred to another zoo saying that neither options were practical.

An autopsy is being carried out on the giraffe before its carcass is used as food for the zoo’s carnivores.

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Christine Bohan

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