Denmark zoo might kill another giraffe called Marius

A healthy young giraffe named Marius, who was shot dead and autopsied in the presence of visitors to the gardens at Copenhagen zoo on Feb. 9, 2014, is seen two days before the slaughter. Getty

COPENHAGEN -- The Danish Jyllands Park Zoo said on Wednesday it might put down one of its giraffes, which by coincidence is also named Marius, just as the giraffe Copenhagen Zoo slaughtered on Sunday to the disgust of animal lovers around the world, according to Danish news agency Ritzau.

Staff at Copenhagen Zoo have received death threats after the zoo killed the 18-month-old healthy male giraffe because the animal's genes were already well represented in an international breeding program that aims to maintain a healthy giraffe population in European zoos.

Jyllands Park Zoo in western Denmark might put down its seven-year-old Marius if the zoo manages to acquire a female giraffe, which is most likely, zoo keeper Janni Lojtved Poulsen told Ritzau. The zoo also has a younger male called Elmer.

“We can't have two males and one female. Then there will be fights,” Poulsen said.

She said that it might be possible to find another place for the giraffe to live, but that the probability is small. Like its namesake in Copenhagen, Jyllands Park Zoo's Marius is considered unsuitable for breeding.

“If the breeding program coordinator decides that he should be put down, then that's what we'll do,” Poulsen said.

 She said that zoos in Denmark have been killing surplus animals for many years, and that the wave of protests following Sunday's killing in Copenhagen is not deterring Jyllands Park Zoo.

“Many places abroad where they do not do this, the animals live under poor conditions, and they are not allowed to breed either. We don't think that's ok,” she said.

The giraffe at Copenhagen Zoo was dissected in front of crowds at the zoo, and afterwards, some of the carcass was then fed to other zoo animals and some was sent to research projects in Denmark and abroad for study.

Poulsen said Jyllands Park Zoo has not yet considered whether it should carry out a public dissection as the one in Copenhagen.

She told The Guardian newspaper on Thursday that the global uproar over the Copenhagen zoo’s actions -- which has included death threats to zoo staff -- would not deter Jyllands Park from following the recommendations of the breeding program.

"It doesn't affect us in any way,” she told the British newspaper. “We are completely behind Copenhagen and would have done the same."

Poulsen also told the Guardian she was surprised to learn earlier in the week that another giraffe in Denmark was named Marius.

"We thought it was amusing that there was another Marius among the giraffes when there aren't that many giraffes in Denmark overall," she said, telling the paper that he had been named after a vet at the zoo.

An official at the Copenhagen zoo reportedly told a Danish radio program that Marius wasn’t “an official name” for the animal slaughtered in that city.

"The zoo keepers sometimes call the animals names, and then our guests have heard the name Marius, and that has then become the individual Marius," Copenhagen Zoo scientific director Bengt Holst said on the radio program, according to the Guardian. 

Comments