February 11th, 2014
10:23 PM ET

Copenhagen Zoo Official: "The most important thing for us is an animal has a good life… whether it is a long life or short life"

A decision by the Copenhagen Zoo is sparking outrage around the world. Zookeepers killed a perfectly healthy giraffe simply because its genes weren't good for their breeding program. They conducted an autopsy in front of an audience that included kids and then fed the remains to the zoo's big cats. Copenhagen Zoo’s Scientific Director Bengt Holst defended the decision.

The Columbus Zoo's Jack Hanna is outraged and told Anderson "This is a living creature… you have an obligation to that animal."

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  1. larrytaggesell

    I watched your show “Anderson 360” yesterday with a story about a Denmark Zoo and a giraffe. The zoo had euthanized a young giraffe, “autopsied’ it, and then feed the carcass to the lions. You questioned this action and the value placed on this individual animal and its right to life.
    The zoo took this action to preserve the integrity of the zoo’s gene pool. Allowing this giraffe to procreate, even at another zoo, would have diluted the gene pool and possibly created deformed or defective offspring affecting much more than this single individual. The animal could have been neutered but then is this any more humane? What about all the unwanted domestic animals that are euthanized every day? Where is our outrage here?
    The “autopsy” though seeming grizzly to you was simply a dissection used as an educational tool. This is done every day in high schools and colleges throughout the country to teach students about anatomy. Frogs and rats are typically used and are raised for this purpose.
    Shouldn’t we as humans be more concerned about maintaining habit and eliminating poaching to preserve wildlife in their natural habitat than creating zoos to confine and put these beautiful creatures on display? Aren’t zoos just another form of animal cruelty? Animals in zoos have longer lifespans than animals in the wild but many of their natural behaviors are not allowed to happen in a zoo environment. Why shouldn’t the zoo take this opportunity to feed the lions a natural food source?
    Think about the recent Texas case where a brain dead woman was being kept on life support against her wishes and her families’ wishes because she was pregnant and the law, although misinterpreted, gave the fetus a right to life. Is your position in this case any different? Do you eat meat? Cattle, pigs, chickens and countless other animals are raised and slaughtered to provide meat for humans. Do you feel these animals should also have a right to life? What life is deemed important enough to protect?
    There’s a scary trend of people feeling that life must be preserved at all costs and not taking responsibility for their actions. I would think you, as a media person, should be presenting both sides of the story objectively and asking questions probing both sides. Where does this end? Will we be saying that lettuce has a right to life someday?

    February 12, 2014 at 1:37 pm |
    • middsgo2u

      Marius' genes weren't good enough? Really? For that he had to die?

      And, who in this world honestly believes that the giraffe would rather die than not be able to "procreate?"

      Yes, animals all over the world are bred as future food. Many, many people think this is wrong, especially when the animals are not given the respect they deserve as living, sentient beings. Most of us have no idea what goes on at those "factory farms." Those places are an outrage.

      As for "where is the outrage?" over the slaughter of millions of abandoned pets each year, believe it or not, there is plenty of outrage over it. It's collectively known as the No Kill Movement.

      The argument, "The important thing is that we give them a good life, however long or short that is," is, in fact, an argument used by those who raise up livestock with the intention of killing them. The last time I checked, zoos are meant to preserve life, not treat it like a science experiment.

      February 12, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
  2. apollonnia

    First my English is not so good... Bengt Holst said they got 2 offers from zoos etc... He lie, because Quebec's Parc Safari wanted take Marius.
    "Marius The Giraffe Was Offered A Spot At Quebec Zoo" http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/02/11/marius-giraffe-quebec-zoo_n_4766292.html

    Also I want write something about what Anderson Cooper said during the show, is there was some kind of schedule so people came to watch...
    Here is article from Odense Zoo (Denmark) – The animal on the inside – Odense Zoo – Be with when Odense ZOO facing animals on the wrong side of the weekend the 1 & 2 February 2014. Lion dissection...

    February 12, 2014 at 1:55 am |
  3. fmrifkin

    Thank you for covering the story about Marius the 2 year old giraffe. This story is very disturbing.

    If Marius' genotype was over represented, why didn't the Copenhagen Zoo Vets neuter him? If they were worried that Marius would fall into the wrong hands, why didn't they make a bigger effort to reach out to the international zoo community to find an accredited, reputable zoo to adopt him? There are plenty of wonderful zoos. What is the philosophy of the Copenhagen Zoo? Are they interested in displaying animals for entertainment, or are they concerned with protecting vanishing animals and educating humans about the value of animals in our human world?
    Please consider keeping this story alive. If we humans don't take our role of caretaker more seriously, we may, one day, find ourselves without a balanced ecosystem / place to live.

    February 11, 2014 at 11:39 pm |
  4. jdianovsky

    Please sign my petition to the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums urging them to end this practice!! http://www.thepetitionsite.com/261/078/768/justice-for-marius-the-giraffe-demand-that-eaza-change-its-policies/#sign

    February 11, 2014 at 11:10 pm |

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