RIP Marius – Young Giraffe Killed by Zoo
Yesterday, Marius, an 18-month-old giraffe, was killed by the Copenhagen Zoo and fed to lions, as he was considered useless for breeding.
This is no surprise. Zoos, including those in Britain, will often breed animals in captivity and create babies in an effort to keep drawing in paying visitors – yet often, there’s nowhere to put the offspring as they grow, and they are destroyed.
Wildlife documentaries have opened people’s eyes to the fact that a zoo is just an animal prison. The death of Marius should be a wake-up call for anyone who still harbours the illusion that zoos serve any purpose beyond incarcerating intelligent animals for profit.
Giraffes rarely die of old age in captivity, and had Marius not been killed today, he would have lived out his short life as a living exhibit, stranded in a cold climate, thousands of miles away from his true home.
Breeding programmes serve no true conservation purpose because giraffes and other animals born in zoos are rarely, if ever, returned to their natural habitats. They are treated as baby-makers and visitor attractions in a zoo’s “swap-and-shop” programme, which gives the public a false sense that something meaningful has happened.
The education argument doesn’t cut it, either. Seeing bored, depressed and often mad animals pacing, swaying or circling constantly teaches children nothing about real animal behaviour – we certainly wouldn’t take our children to prison in order to teach them about human behaviour. They can learn far more valuable and inspiring lessons by watching nature documentaries that show wild animals where they belong, going on virtual field trips or watching IMAX movies.
PETA urges everyone who genuinely cares about giraffes and all the other individuals serving life sentences in zoos to avoid patronising such “attractions” and instead donate to campaigns that actually protect animals in their native habitats.