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Copenhagen Zoo euthanized a healthy male giraffe, Marius, in view of patrons that included children. Marius was then dismembered and his limbs were fed to the herd of lions that occupy the zoo.
Chicago Tribune reports that animal activists tried to raise awareness and save the 18-month-old giraffe, but failed due to the zoo’s decision to avoid inbreeding. A British Zoo offered sanctuary for Marius as well as an online petition that gathered a total of 25,000 signatures.
Copenhagen Zoo’s veterinarian, Mads Bertelsen explained that Marius was called to the yard by the zookeeper who held rye bread. Marius loved eating rye bread.
Bertelsen said, "I stood behind with a rifle, and when he put his head forward and ate the rye bread, then I shot him through the brain. It sounds violent, but it means that Marius had no idea of what was coming. He got his bread, then he died."
CNN added that another reason behind Marius being euthanized was because he did not have a place in his herd.
Bengt Holst, the scientific director at Copenhagen Zoo, said that sterilizing Marius was not an option. He said, "If we just sterilize him, he will take up space for more genetically valuable giraffes."
In regards to the pubic dismemberment of Marius that was happened in front of the zoo patrons Holst said the incident was educational and served as entertainment. Holst said that everyone was “enthusiastic” and the children “asked good questions.”
Holst went on to say, "It is a good opportunity to invite our guests to watch. ... We are here to educate people and that is a good way to show people what a giraffe looks like."
Marius was shot to avoid contamination from a lethal injection. Part of his body was used for research and the rest was used to feed the lions, tigers and leopards.