The Copenhagen Zoo killed a healthy 2-year-old giraffe and fed him to lions on Sunday despite more than 27,000 signing an online appeal to save the animal, according to the BBC News.
Zoo officials said that it had no choice but to kill the giraffe, nicknamed Marius, because they were trying to avoid inbreeding. Petitioners tried to persuade the zoo to sterilize the giraffe or ship him off to another zoo.
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"Marius deserves to live and there must be somewhere for him to go," Maria Evans wrote in the petition,
which also called for the firing of Bengt Holst as scientific director at the zoo. "The zoo has raised him so it is their responsibility to find him a home, no matter how long it takes. They must not be allowed to take the easy option."
The New York Times reported that zoo officials
received death threats after they turned down adoption offers from other zoos and $682,000 from an individual who wanted to buy Marius.
Holst told The Associated Press that the zoo
turned away an offer from Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Britain because Marius' older brother lives there and the park's space could be better used by a "genetically more valuable giraffe."
Yorkshire Wildlife Park officials said that they were "saddened" by Marius' death and that they made a last-minute offer to the Copenhagen Zoo on Saturday because they had room for an extra male.
The Associated Press reported that the Copenhagen Zoo rejected an offer from a north Sweden zoo because it was not a member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria.
"I know the giraffe is a nice looking animal, but I don't think there would have been such an outrage if it had been an antelope, and I don't think anyone would have lifted an eyebrow if it was a pig," Holst said.
Elisa Allen, a spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in the United Kingdom, said that the giraffe's death is more evidence that zoos do nothing more than "incarcerating intelligent animals for profit."
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