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Reuters, Published February 09 2014

Copenhagen Zoo kills healthy giraffe to prevent inbreeding

COPENHAGEN – The Copenhagen Zoo went ahead with a plan to shoot and dismember a healthy giraffe Sunday and feed the 18-month-old animal’s carcass to lions – an action the zoo said was in line with anti-inbreeding rules meant to ensure a healthy giraffe population.

The giraffe, named Marius, was shot in the head and then cut apart in view of children, according to a video of the incident.

The zoo’s plans had sparked an outcry from animal rights activists. A British zoo had offered to give Marius a home and even started an online petition to save the giraffe, gathering more than 25,000 signatures.

Mads Bertelsen, the zoo veterinarian, said the giraffe was coaxed into a yard and over to a zookeeper, who held out rye bread, according to the video footage.

“I stood behind with a rifle, and when he put his head forward and ate the rye bread, then I shot him through the brain,” Bertelsen said. “It sounds violent, but it means that Marius had no idea of what was coming. He got his bread, then he died.”

In a statement posted on the zoo’s website, the zoo stated its intention to euthanize the giraffe “in agreement with the European Breeding Program” and said that transferring the animal to another zoo would “cause inbreeding.”