Danish Giraffe Killed for Having Unremarkable Genes

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DUBBO, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 20:  A giraffe is seen at Taronga Western Plains Zoo on April 20, 2012 in Dubbo, Australia. The popular 35 year old Dubbo zoo is set in 3 square km of bushland and is home to over 700 animals.  (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Photo: Mark Kolbe/2012 Getty Images

Despite protests, Marius, a healthy 2-year-old giraffe, was killed with a bolt pistol and fed to lions in front of visitors at the Copenhagen Zoo on Sunday. What did he do to deserve such a fate? Be born. The zoo's scientific director, Bengt Holst, explained that Marius was put down because the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, of which Copenhagen is a member, had no use for the creature's unremarkable genetic material in their breeding program. "Giraffes today breed very well, and when they do you have to choose and make sure the ones you keep are the ones with the best genes," he told the BBC. Several other places were willing to take Marius in, but Holst rejected their offers, telling one British zoo that their space should be used for  "a genetically more important giraffe." Nature can be harsh.