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The killing of a young giraffe named Marius at the Copenhagen Zoo has triggered strong reaction around the world. The animal was euthanized, dissected in front of an audience that included children, and later fed to the zoo's resident lions.
Isha Sesay spoke with Bengt Holst, the Director of Research and Conservation at the Copenhagen Zoo. He was joined for a debate on the issue by Mirja Holm Thansen, the Chairwoman of the Organisation Against the Suffering of Animals.
Isha began by asking Holst to explain why the zoo felt it had no alternative other than to kill Marius.
"He was actually a surplus to the population, and you know, as being part of a breeding program, we always have to make the population as sound as possible," Holst said. He went on to say that it was common practice to breed animals, evaluate their genetic makeup, and decide which would create the strongest gene pool going forward. "Having animals in our care means that we have to always make sure that the population is healthy."
Thansen disagreed strongly, and argued that Marius' death was senseless.
"Where is your compassion for this animal?" She asked Holst. "You had several offers to save him. You could have postponed it. Where is your empathy? And I think that this case with Marius just shows that the zoo is in fact not the ethical institution that it wants to portray itself as being."