Zoo kills "surplus" giraffe in front of children, feeds it to lions

Did this giraffe really need to die? A Danish zoo shot and killed Marius, a healthy giraffe in their care, before feeding him to their lions... in front of a group of school children.

Saying that Marius' genes were "over-represented," The Copenhagen Zoo, which also has seven other giraffes, announced plans to put down Marius. Before they did so, however, they fielded a number of offers from other zoos to take him in and one offer from a private individual to buy the giraffe for $680,000. All of the offers were turned down, saying that the space should be used instead for what the zoo's Scientific Director Bengt Holst called a "genetically more valuable giraffe," and that sometimes zoo breeding programs resulted in "a surplus animal."

Inviting children was also a controversial move, which Copenhagen Zoo spokesperson Tobias Stenbaek Bro defended to the AP, saying "I'm actually proud because I think we have given children a huge understanding of the anatomy of a giraffe that they wouldn't have had from watching a giraffe in a photo."

Zoo kills "surplus" giraffe in front of children, feeds it to lions

So, what do you think? What should the zoo have done? What's the best way to cope with inbreeding problems among small populations of animals in captivity? And what do you think about the zoo's decision to open it up to the public?

Images: AP Photo/POLFOTO, Peter Hove Olesen.