Monday, February 10, 2014

It's Educutional!

If this is what you think of when you
hear the word danish, and you like it
that way, please stop reading now.
So the Copenhagen Zoo had an extra giraffe and decided to-yes, I said an extra giraffe. I am personally of the opinion that one can never have too many giraffes but then I'm not a Danish zoo. Anyway, they decided that their zoo had exactly one giraffe too many so they decided to put one, named Marius, down. Bummer, right? Yes, but it gets even more Danish. After a veterinarian shot it in the head with a rifle, zoo staff performed a necropsy (an autopsy, but for animals), which is weird because the vet with the smoking rifle seems the most likely cause of death.

Weirder still is that they performed the necropsy in front of school children. Oh yes. Visitors, including school kids, were invited to watch. But don't worry animal fans, the giraffe was then skinned, cut up and fed to the zoo's lions. If you just muttered 'Holy shit, what is up with Denmark?' to yourself, you're not alone.
Because if you don't teach your kids about giraffe
innards, they're just going to pick it up on the streets.
The lions, however, were totally on board.
As you can imagine, the zoo's plan to take a healthy, two year-old giraffe, euthanize it, dissect it and then it feed to lions (didn't I mention that part?) has upset some people. Animal rights supporters collected over 27,000 signatures hoping to save Marius. They also pointed out that there were options open to the Zoo other than a live execution/field trip. Marius could have, I don't know, been moved to another zoo. In fact, a number of other zoos and private organizations had expressed interest in taking the giraffe, but the Copenhagen Zoo refused.

How come? Is the place run by deranged, inhuman butchers whose insane lust for the blood of adorable animals is matched only by their insatiable thirst for the tears of children? Probably not, but some crazy people seems to think so. Some of the zoo's staff have been receiving death threats.
In this case, the death threats seem a little self-defeating.
Sure she's smiling, but on the inside
this scientist is thinking about how she's
 wasted her life on goddamn giraffes.
It turns out the Copenhagen Zoo is involved in an inter-zoo breeding program with the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (or EAZA, if you're feeling sassy) which abides by certain guidelines to ensure a healthy and diverse population and Marius was, at least by the program's rules, redundant. Yikes. Sounds cold, but the zoo has limited resources and I can't imagine that anyone at the zoo was thrilled to put the giraffe down. Like, you don't dedicate your life to giraffe-research if you hate giraffes, do you?

Check out the interview with Bengt Holst, the zoo's director of Research and Conservation. He explains that the other options weren't really options. Some of the zoos that offered to take Marius weren't up to snuff, and nobody wanted him to end up in a circus.
Sweet Jesus, I wouldn't wish the circus on anybody.
Don't worry kids, your parents
are just copulating. It's a natural thing.
As for the necropsy being performed in front of children, Holst defended the move explaining that death is a part of life and we shouldn't shield children from it:

"...we shouldn't show the Disney World, we should show the real thing."

-Bengt Holst,
Future host of TLC's Murder Zoo

Look, I'm not saying that I support giraffe murder. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that I'm against it. What I am suggesting that maybe we should all just take a breath, stop emailing death threats and accept that sometimes things are more complicated than 'Holy shit, what is up with Denmark?'
Dude, you shot a giraffe and then fed it to lions in front of kids.
Yes, it was for science, but CNN isn't exactly known for understanding nuance. 

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